Hunger affects all of our neighbors, but in Black communities, the rate of food insecurity is twice that of white households. In 2020, 1 in 5 of Black individuals may have faced hunger. Discriminatory policies and practices have led Black people to be more likely to live in poverty, more likely to face unemployment, and have fewer financial resources like savings or property than their white counterparts.
In response, Black community leaders have worked hard to help their neighbors facing hunger. These leaders have and continue to play vital roles in the Feeding America network of food banks and in their communities. We’re going to introduce you to just a few stories of the incredible work being done by Black leaders ending hunger.
Meet Earline, who has dedicated over 30 years to helping feed her community
Not many people can say they’ve dedicated over three decades to serving their community. But for Earline, her story begins in 1990 when she saw an ad for a position with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Soon, she was helping organize donations and fundraisers, and eventually grew into management roles. Now the Vice President of Partner Services & Public Policy, Earline and her team have greatly expanded the capacity of the Food Bank’s partner agencies.
As the Food Bank began to evolve, Earline grew right alongside it — at one point moving into a volunteer management role and finally landing with the Food Bank’s team that works with their partners in the community.
Under Earline’s leadership as the Vice President of Partner Services & Public Policy, her team has greatly expanded the capacity of the Food Bank’s partner agencies. They launched programs aimed at feeding more of our most vulnerable population — children and seniors, advocated for strong federal and state nutrition programs, and helped our partner agencies expand their capacity to nourish more people.
While her leadership role certainly keeps her busy, Earline is always one of the first to jump up and help bring in a food drive or volunteer at a food distribution. Thanks to her work, thousands of people in her area have had meals on their tables. Her long-term dedication to ending hunger is something we’re so thankful for.
Meet Lamont, a proud father and food bank director
For Lamont, his most important role was being a father who could provide for his family. He worked hard to give his children a life he never had – a comfortable one, where they had everything they needed and more. He worked day in and day out to make this possible. But, this changed when he was injured on the job. All he had to rely on was his workers’ compensation, and that wasn’t enough to feed his family.
“Things got really bad for us,” Lamont said. “I had promised myself I’d never be in a position where I couldn’t provide for my family, but one day, my kids were hungry, and I had nothing to give them. That was the lowest moment for me.” Lamont decided to visit a food pantry, and that moment changed his life.
“Everyone was so kind. They shook my hand, hugged me, and helped me see that this didn’t mean I was a failure as a father, as a man. It just meant that I needed help to get back to where I was before,” he said.
Lamont began volunteering at his local pantry – served by Utah Food Bank, as he looked for work. The pantry saw something special in him and offered him a job. “Eventually, I was promoted to a director and now I’m in charge of a program that works with families to break the cycle of poverty,” Lamont said. “I can provide for my family again, and not only that, I’m truly fulfilled. I know I’m making a big difference in people’s lives.”
Meet Mr. Reeves, an Academic Dean who worked to keep kids fed through COVID-19
Last March when the pandemic began, millions of kids and their families across the country struggled as schools closed. Mr. Reeves, the Academic Dean at a middle school in San Antonio, knew he had to take action to make sure kids had what they needed while at home. His school worked with the San Antonio Food Bank to host an emergency food distribution.
“If a student doesn’t have a computer the independent school district will provide one, along with internet. With google classroom we upload the lesson, videos, lecture and grades. There is no reason a student cannot be connected with their teacher. It’s a great thing that Sul Ross Middle School and the San Antonio Food Bank teams up to create a food distribution. I get to see my student’s parents, aunties, uncles and grandmothers picking up food. And it’s an absolute pleasure to work and make sure all students are fed during this time of need,” he said.