Real Stories of Hunger

Learn more about Americans facing hunger, and how others are making a difference through volunteering, donating and advocating

Your Story: Victoria and Steven - VideoPlay Video
Your Story: Victoria and Steven
Bartlett, TX
"The food pantry has been a lifesaver ... it’s turned a situation that could have been one of...
Your Story: Victoria and Steven
Bartlett, TX

"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.

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The McCrories
New York
After hearing Tony Robbins story of struggling with hunger in his youth, the McCrories were inspired...
The McCrories
New York

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.

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Your Story: Gaby
Tennessee
Today, we are down to our last dime. There is no money left to pay the bills. We constantly have to...
Your Story: Gaby
Tennessee

My husband Josh and I have three children. John is seven, Gavin is two and Marietta is one. When we first got married our lives were pretty stable. We had a place to live and both of us worked full time. We could pay the bills; we could buy our children the things they needed. But then I lost my job and things went downhill from there.

Josh lost his job the year after I did. We had just moved into a new home so the loss was especially tough. We did everything we could to find other work but apparently it just wasn’t enough. Today, we are down to our last dime. After the bills are paid, there is no money left. In fact, there is no money to pay the bills. We constantly have to make tough choices like choosing between buying diapers and paying the light bill. If it wasn’t for the food bank, we would definitely have to choose between paying for utilities and buying food.

We receive help from the food bank – Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee – in two ways: through the mobile food bank that comes to our community monthly, and through the BackPack program at John’s school. Each Friday, he comes home with a bag full of healthy food that enables me to make quick, easy meals for all my children. Josh and I may have to skip meals, but we make sure our children never have to. Without help from the food bank though, I really don’t know how we’d feed them.

We never thought our lives would turn out like this – no one does. But when we did find ourselves in this situation we are so thankful the food bank is there to help. We won’t always struggle like this; I have hopes for a better future. In fact, Josh starts a new job this week and I’m planning on going to school to be a welder. We’ll work hard to get on our feet so we can give our children a better life. I want them to have the world and someday, the ability to give back.  

We are able to tell this story with our partner, C&S Wholesale Grocers, who sponsored production costs.

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Dave - Volunteer at Gleaners Community Food Bank
Dave
Indiana
Dave has been volunteering at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana since 2013 and has donated nearly 400...
Dave - Volunteer at Gleaners Community Food Bank
Dave
Indiana

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.

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Marilee - Volunteer at Treasure Coast Food Bank
Marilee
Alabama
Marilee has been volunteering at Feeding the Gulf Coast for 9 months and in those 9 months she has...
Marilee - Volunteer at Treasure Coast Food Bank
Marilee
Alabama

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:

  • Determines proper storage location for various product types
  • Safely transports product to proper warehouse location
  • Safely uses all warehouse equipment
  • Oversees product take-in process
  • Supports volunteer operations through safety oversight, teaching processes, and moving product and supplies as necessary

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.

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Ian - volunteer
Ian
Missouri
Ian is a “Farm to Table” volunteer for Harvesters and specifically helps at the City Market in...
Ian - volunteer
Ian
Missouri

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.

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Jestine - A 92 year old food bank volunteer
Jestine
Columbia, SC
Jestine volunteers in one our Emergency Food Pantries at Harvest Hope Food Bank. She is a very young...
Jestine - A 92 year old food bank volunteer
Jestine
Columbia, SC

"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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Client Story 729859775
Alexandria, VA
Client Story 729859775
Alexandria, VA
Mr. Howard Schultz April 5, 2016 CEO info@starbucks.com Starbucks Corporation 2401 Utah Ave S Seattle, WA 98134 Mrs. Jane Maly Brand Manager info@starbucks.com Starbucks Food Team Starbucks FoodShare Mr. Kane Blasingame District Manager cblasing@starbucks.com Starbucks 5728 Dow Avenue Alexandria, VA 22304 Mrs. Lucia Davila sm0709@retail.starbucks.com Store Manager Starbucks 100 South Union Street Alexandria, VA 22314 Mrs. Diana Aviv CEO daviv@feedingamerica.org Feeding America 1150 18th Street, NW Suite 200 Washington, DC 20036 Re: Starbucks FoodShare Program Feeding America Dear Mr. Schultz, Mrs. Maly, Mr. Blasingame, Mrs. Davila and Mrs. Aviv: Hello. I am responding to emails I received from Starbucks' customer support representatives, Heather C. (<<#3304624-16300695#>>) and Jeannetta B. (<<#3304624-16300684#>>). Apparently, Heather and Jeannetta are not familiar with the Starbucks FoodShare/Feeding America joint venture. Their emails to me suggest that I am making a third party business proposal and requesting that Starbucks link to a third party website. That is not the case. The Starbucks FoodShare/Feeding America joint venture is a Starbucks Corporation campaign which is proudly displayed on the company website and Facebook page. I am interested in partnering with Starbucks FoodShare and Feeding America to provide donated pre-packaged food items to needy persons in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. Mr. Kane Blasingame informed me that he is going through some restructuring with the local area Starbucks stores he manages. He advised that I should try to set this program up next month (May 2016). He did mention that there was a Starbucks link with registration information, and he promised to forward that link to my email. I have not received an email from Mr. Blasingame as of this date. It would be wonderful if another Starbucks representative would initiate the startup process with me. Perhaps, Mrs. Jane Maly, or someone in her department, would be able to assist me in this endeavor. I understand how managing the Starbucks FoodShare/Feeding America program is quite complex. I am trying to make this process as easy as possible from my end. I am simply a Civilian Volunteer who has found an opportunity to assist others - an opportunity offered by one of the greatest companies in America. Following is a copy of Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz's August 24, 2015 memo to employees, as released by The Washington Post: To: Starbucks partners; managing directors for company-operated and joint venture markets Date: August 24, 2015 Re: Message from Howard: Leading Through Turbulent Times Dear Partners, During our 23-year history as a public company, we have experienced--and successfully navigated through--several periods of extreme stock market volatility. And although we are not immune from the global stock market selloff that has now made its way to Wall Street, my confidence in our company and in all of you has never been greater. We are in the midst of another record-setting year--combining our unique "third place" in-store experience with highly relevant coffee and tea innovation and differentiated customer-facing mobile and digital technologies. We are making a profound social impact in the communities we serve around the world, and will continue to do so today and into the future. Our company has weathered many different types of storms. But our brand has never been stronger or more relevant. Our pipeline of new products and breakthrough innovation has never been more robust. And our long term commitment to delivering an elevated partner experience is unwavering. I can assure you that we will continue to lead and manage the company through the lens of humanity, doing everything we possibly can to continue to make your families proud of our company and all we stand for. You have my word on this. Today's financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers' attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and--as you always have--remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let's be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations. Our growth plans for the future of our company will not be impacted by the turmoil of the financial markets. We will positively manage through today's challenging environment just as we have positively navigated through challenging moments in the past. The experience we deliver in our stores, the strength and equity of our brand, and the primary reason for our current and future success is because of all of YOU. I believe in you and have never been prouder to be your partner. Onward, Howard In the spirit of Mr. Schultz's desire to "mak[e] a profound social impact in the communities [Starbucks] serve[s] around the world... to lead and manage the company through the lens of humanity..." and, to uphold the standards of excellence with respect to the "...experience [Starbucks] deliver[s] in [its] stores..., " as well as "...the strength and equity of [Starbucks'] brand, " I am excited to implement the Starbucks FoodShare/Feeding America program in the Old Town, Alexandria, VA area. I pledge my commitment to Mr. Schultz's goals for Starbucks Corporation, and shall professionally conduct all interactions I make while representing the Starbucks FoodShare/Feeding America program. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with any Starbucks representatives who may be able to assist me in bringing my plan to fruition. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Juanita Sanchez (Mita)

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