Real Stories of Hunger
“When I’m hungry, I get tired or I’ll get distracted,” Elijah said. “But when I’m not, I’m on-task and I can focus. If I’m full, I’m ready for whatever happens."
Elijah, an 11-year-old in Texas, wants to be a robotic engineer when he grows up. But before that, he needs food over the summer. This is his story.
We eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner sometimes. My mom and dad have to go without just so that us kids can have food in our stomachs.
8-year-old Zoey adores animals. And when she grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian. But before Zoey can be a veterinarian, she needs to grow up healthy and strong. And for her family, that can be hard because there's not a lot of food in the fridge to feed everyone.
A little girl handed me her report card and she told me ‘my grades are now better because I get breakfast every morning from the food pantry’ and it broke my heart.
Lamont’s life took an unexpected turn when an on-the-job injury left him unemployed and relying on the food pantry to help feed his children. Now, he helps other families get back on their feet as the director of the same food pantry.
"I was a defender in the military, and when I came home, I made sure I did everything I could to provide for my family. I worry about how we're going to pay rent, the bills, or how we're going to get what the kids want for supper."
Mikel's eight years of service in the US Army, including a tour in Iraq, took a significant toll. He suffers from PTSD and is disabled. He tries his best to help the family make ends meet. But he still worries about paying rent, bills, and food for his kids.
“Most people don’t think Asians are lacking, but so many are working in restaurants and a lot are out of work because many of those businesses have been closed down. Food is one of the basics. I want to make sure people are fed, especially right now.”
When the COVID pandemic hit, Christina Sung wanted to help in any way she could. Then she saw a Chinese translator was needed at the St. James Food Pantry. As a chef and Chinese-American, she jumped at the chance to volunteer at a food-based organization.
“(The pantry) changed everything. My mom’s voice kept going through my head, ‘Take the helping hand when you need it, and give back when you don’t.’”
Anne Lee and her family relied on income from their dairy cows in Upstate New York, but 2019 changed everything. They no longer were making enough money to keep food on the table. They turned to their local food bank for help so they didn't have to worry about food for themselves or their children.
“When they began farming, my parents saw a need to provide for me and my siblings. Now, they are providing food and sustenance for many people."
When the COVID pandemic reached Hawaii, Tony Wong Cam and his parents worried about their farm located in Wai'anae. But with the help of the Hawaii Foodbank, they were able to keep farming. Now, Huang's Green Leaf Products and other farms provide produce for their neighbors facing hunger.
“Historically, the LGBTQ community is vulnerable. Many may not have a ready support system because they’ve left their homes. I think that’s why many are more at risk of facing hunger.”
Gregory Gross is the executive director of Care for Real, a food pantry that serves the LGBTQ community in Chicago. Learn how Gregory and Care for Real make the pantry a safe and welcoming environment for our LGBTQ neighbors.
"There's a stereotype that people that go to food banks are lazy. The majority of the people we serve are hard-working people."
Sally Latimer, the co-director of the pantry, joined the organization in 2018 as a way to give back to her tribe. She also knows what it’s like to be hungry. After her husband passed away a decade ago, she became the sole provider for her family. “Every time I hand a bag of food to someone, it’s me giving back just a tiny bit of what was given to me,” she said.
Thanksgiving would be a normal day without this food. I'm grateful for the food and I'm just really thankful for all the blessing we have.
Roberta has a career in home healthcare but needed a little extra help this year affording food for Thanksgiving. She knew the food bank would be there for her. This food helps to make the holidays special for her family.
"This is a blessing. We'd make it; we'd scrape buy without this. I'd be sue of it. But this does help."
Alma's been a workaholic her whole life. She's proud that she's always tried to get more hours, do more. But when Thanksgiving arrived, Alma didn't hesitate to reach out for a little extra help.