Learn more about Americans facing hunger, and how others are making a difference through volunteering, donating and advocating
I never thought food pantries were for people like us. My husband, Tyrone, and I are both educated and have always supported ourselves. I thought food pantries were for homeless people or people who did not/could not work. That’s why when our struggles began, I didn’t consider going to one for help. But then I saw a flyer at our church. I went, and quickly realized I had been wrong. Food pantries are for people like us – they are resources for anyone who finds themselves in need of extra support.
Our downhill slide began when Tyrone lost job after getting hurt at work. I was in school at the time and getting ready to finish, but soon after I got really sick. I couldn’t work or go to school, and my family entered a dark time in our lives. Each month, we had to choose between paying the light bill and buying food. We were plagued by the stress of not having enough money to buy groceries. And there were plenty of times where we skipped meals so that our children – who are now teens – always had enough to eat.
I am so grateful we discovered the food pantry. The food and care it provided helped us slowly dig our way out from under. The nutritious staples helped me recover from my illness, and helped my children stay strong and healthy throughout our struggle. We haven’t recovered 100 percent yet – we still turn to the pantry to supplement our groceries from time to time – but we’re close. Tyrone has a full-time job now and I’m working part time along with volunteering at the pantry. I’m hoping to work full time as soon as my health fully allows.
As for our children, they are doing really well. Together we’ve created plans for each of them – to finish college and have a great career. Hopefully the struggles we’ve gone through will help them overcome any challenges the future may bring; and help them emerge from those challenges like our family has now – stronger and closer, with a heart to help others in need.
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"For the longest time, my family lived in Lubbock, Texas – a town about seven hours north of here. We were secure there. We had a three bedroom house, a big yard and my husband had a well-paying job that was more than enough to provide for our three-year-old son. About four months ago however, we had to give it all up and move south to take care of my mother and aunt. My mother is getting older and suffers from Parkinson’s, and my aunt has disabilities that require her to use an oxygen tank and limit her mobility. They need us here to reliably make their meals, drive them to doctors’ appointments and make sure they take their medication – among other tasks.
For us, family comes first. We were happy to sacrifice our lives to take care of two women who raised me, but it hasn’t been easy. My husband had to leave his job and is struggling to find a new one. We spent our savings on the move, and we now have five mouths to feed instead of three. My mother and aunt’s fixed incomes don’t go very far. At one point, we needed food and all we had was five dollars. That’s when we turned to the food pantry for help.
The food pantry has been a lifesaver. By giving us nutritious staples to get through the month, it’s turned a situation that could have been one of hopelessness and despair into a hopeful one – where we can feed our family and hold our heads up high through difficult, but temporary, time.
I know there is hope for the future. I only have to look at energy and optimism of my son to see that. Soon my husband will find work and we’ll be in a better place than we were before the move – better, because not only will we be financially stable but we’ll also be here for my mother and aunt when they need us most. Until then, the food pantry is getting us through. They are giving us food and also hope by showing us that we’re not in this alone. There are people out there to help; there are people out there who care."
We are able to tell this story with our partner, C&S Wholesale Grocers, who sponsored production costs.
Jim, Kathleen and Jessica McCrorie became involved with the issue of hunger when they attended a seminar by their friend Tony Robbins. After hearing his story of struggling with hunger in his youth, the McCrories were inspired to become donors, advocates and volunteers on behalf of the issue of hunger. They are now involved with their local food bank as well as Feeding America. The youngest McCrorie family member, Jessica, even decided to give $100 of her own money to add to her family’s contributions.
After learning more about the work done by Feeding America and its network of food banks, Jessica said “I was surprised how many families can be helped by donating only one dollar.” In addition to making her own contribution, she decided to volunteer for Island Harvest, a Feeding America member food bank on Long Island. She collected food and funds at a local Whole Foods grocery store during this year’s Thanksgiving season. She felt the holiday seemed to encourage people to give, saying “I feel like people may have felt more generous and connected to the issue of hunger because the Thanksgiving holiday is a time for family and friends to come together and share a meal. It’s something that is easy to take for granted.” During Jessica’s volunteer day at the store, 30 turkeys were donated to help families in the community have Thanksgiving meals.
When she spoke to the customers, she emphasized the good that donations would do and where they would be going. Reflecting on her experience, Jessica said, “I described that the money and food was going to help hungry people in their own community. I also explained to customers what Island Harvest does and what they are about. I was surprised how much money people gave, and I was also surprised to learn that giving money is sometimes better than giving canned food because the food bank can buy more food at wholesale prices with the money.” The community was more than willing to help with the issue, and she even met someone who wanted to make food donations that would be sensitive to dietary needs, allergies or restrictions, which occur among people who face food insecurity just like they do among people who have enough.
Jessica said donating and volunteering “helps you feel good and helps others at the same time.” Despite being a busy teenager involved in many artistic and musical pursuits, she still wants to emphasize the importance of getting involved with a cause. She said, “As busy as you are, you can always make the time to help other people.” Jessica added, “When I’m hungry, I don’t have enough energy for school and all of the things I want to do,” emphasizing the impact that hunger can have on all aspects of a person’s life. She looks forward to volunteering again and knows that her time is well-spent volunteering with the food bank because they will use the food and funds quickly and efficiently to get more meals into the hands of her neighbors.
Dave DePotter has been volunteering at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana since 2013 and has donated nearly 400 volunteer hours. Dave regularly assists in our Community Cupboard Food Pantry – helping shoppers and stocking shelves. For the past two years, he has co-organized a golf outing to raise awareness and funds for Gleaners. Over $9,700 has been raised to help fight hunger in our community! Dave is our Hunger Hero for always going the extra mile with a smile on his face to fight hunger in Indiana!
Submitted by the Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.
I would like to tell you about an awesome volunteer we have at Feeding the Gulf Coast. Marilee has been volunteering at FTGC for 9 months and in those 9 months she has put in nearly 475 volunteer hours. She always arrives with a smile on her face and has a positive attitude. Marilee has volunteered in reclamation where she helped to sort over 53,000 pounds of donated food. She has helped with clerical needs, inputting data into Primarius and recording volunteer hours. She have performed many tasks in our warehouse:
Marilee implemented new forms for pulling frozen and refrigerated product. This has proven to be more accurate and efficient when filling agency orders. She also maintains our produce coolers. With her creativity our produce looks more appealing to our agencies.
When asked, what do you enjoy about volunteering? Marilee answered, “This is my first volunteer job and I wasn’t sure what to expect. After realizing how many individuals and families need help, it is a good, but humbling feeling to know that you have helped in some way. I never realized there were so many hungry kids. The Backpack Program was a real eye-opener for that. I always feel like I have accomplished something when I leave the food bank and I look forward to coming back the next day.”
Marilee has been retired for a few years, prior to retirement she worked in the Space Shuttle Program for 26 years. She lives with her two one-year old German Shepherds, Ranger and Loki.
Story was submitted by Feeding the Gulf Coast.
Ian is a “Farm to Table” volunteer for Harvesters. “Farm to Table” is a program where Harvesters collects fresh produce from Farmers Markets each Saturday. Ian specifically helps at the City Market in downtown Kansas City.
Ian is a great Harvesters’ representative because of his friendly manner and persuasive powers. He always personally speaks with each farmer at the market to politely ask for food donations and explain how difficult it is to access healthy food if you are food insecure.
After speaking with Ian, the farmers are always willing to donate. In fact, Ian is so good at this that his girlfriend, who is often with him on these excursions, nicknamed him the “Farmer Charmer”.
As a medical student, Ian wholeheartedly believes in and understands the importance of fresh, nutrient-rich produce in everyone’s diet—but especially for those who are food insecure. He enthusiastically supports Harvesters’ goal to provide more produce, and helps Harvesters meet that goal by his efforts.
In fact, one memorable Saturday, Ian arrived with more than 1,000 pounds of produce from the market. This was Ian’s first time volunteering and instead of going just to the market stalls of local farmers – he misunderstood and visited all the commercial stalls too. Ian returned to Harvesters ecstatic about the several pallets of food he had managed to fit in the van and set to work unloading it all with a huge smile on his face.
Though Ian has become very busy finishing medical school and applying to residency programs, his commitment to Harvesters has not waned.
Ian's story was submitted by Harvesters.
"Jestine volunteers in one our Emergency Food Pantries at Harvest Hope Food Bank. She is a very young 92 years of age and has enjoyed volunteering for the last 15 years. The choir at her church recently recognized her with a "Helping the Hungry" award. I asked Jestine what made her start volunteering in 2000. She said she had a close neighbor whose family was struggling with hunger at the time. She came to Harvest Hope to get them help and started volunteering ever since. Please say "Thank You" to Jestine and please share this post with your friends! She is just ONE of our almost 11k strong volunteer base!"
Submitted by the Harvest Hope Food Bank.
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