May 22, 2012
by Feeding America

Walking down the streets of Joplin, MO four days after the tornadoOne year ago, one of the largest tornadoes in U.S. history destroyed the community of Joplin, Missouri turning lives, homes and businesses upside-down.

But one thing that withstood the storm was the community's hope.

I can still remember my entire experience in Joplin. The first moment driving off the interstate and seeing in person the destruction that was shown all over the news is something I will never forget. I remember the empty lot where a house once stood. Except for the foundation, there was no other evidence that any structure was ever even there. I have thought about that visit often — but not just about the city's obvious devastation, but the hope shared by the people who called Joplin home.

We met a young family with an 18-month little girl covered in stickers. Their house had been destroyed but the little girl was smiling ear-to-ear. She was happy because she got an extended visit with her grandmother who gave her stickers whenever she wanted.

We visited a food pantry that was prepared to continue business operations to help people who already used their services and the influx of new clients they were about to receive. They understood other feeding agency sites did not survive the tornado and they would have to become a beacon of hope for the community both short-term and long-term.

We also visited with Ozarks Food Harvest, the food bank that serves the Joplin area. They were a shining example of how all of Feeding America food banks operate on a daily basis. For too many families, hunger is an everyday disaster. Luckily food banks are there to provide nourishment and hope to people facing their own emergencies. Long before that tornado struck the town, the food bank was already a trusted institution woven into the fabric of their community.

The food bank still provides hope to the people of Joplin. That is what all of our food banks do and will do as long as people need help feeding themselves and their families because tornado or not, 1 in 6 people in the U.S. still need some hope.

Tags: Disaster Response

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