As I close out my second month at Second Harvest Food Bank, I want to give you a little insight into who I am and what the first month of being a food banker has taught me.
When I interviewed with Dave Krepcho for the position of Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, he asked me what hunger meant to me. I don’t think he was expecting my response. For me, hunger is personal.
When the recession hit in 2009, I was a senior in high school on the Treasure Coast. I saw my family living paycheck to paycheck. My dad found odd jobs because there simply weren’t any jobs in our town, and he was our sole breadwinner. I got my first job at a retail store in the local mall working a few hours a week to help out. But even then, it was still a struggle. We needed help, and like many other families during the recession, we found some relief with SNAP, or food stamps. There’s often a stigma that asking for help is frowned upon and I am thankful my family asked for help because we were able to start putting the pieces of our lives back together. This experience shaped the way I see and understand hunger.
Once you see through the perceptions of who is hungry, you realize that hunger looks like your next door neighbor, the young family that just moved in, or even someone working 1 or 2 jobs and is underemployed. Hunger looks like you and me. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this.
My first month here, I learned that hunger affects 1 in 6 people in Central Florida. Let that sink in. 1 in 6 people have no idea where their next meal will come from. This includes:
- Children in our community that have lunch on Friday and their next meal is on Monday morning at school,
- Seniors that have to make a decision between purchasing a life-saving prescription or buying food, and
- Parents that forgo a meal or two to make sure their children can eat a meal.
It’s crucial that you become a hunger advocate now more than ever. As you may know, the Farm Bill has proposed budget cuts to SNAP that would reduce its budget by 25% over 10 years. Our community would lose more than 50 million meals a year. This would instantly negate the 54 million meals that Second Harvest and our 550 partner agencies provided last year. Will you join me this September for Hunger Action Month? Take the SNAP Challenge and see if you can live on $6.67 a day like a SNAP recipient, write your representative about the proposed cuts or find other ways to become involved at www.feedhopenow.org/ham.