Last week one of our outreach staff at Second Harvest Food Bank met Henry at the public library. Henry is a 55-year old man who was living a typical family life until 2011, when he lost his job at the Kennedy Space Center. In that moment, his secure life tumbled away from him. Unable to find work at the level he needed to maintain financial commitments, Henry burned through the savings, lost his car, and ultimately his house to foreclosure. The most devastating blow came when his wife of many years announced she was leaving him.
For a while, Henry was able to receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food stamp assistance by using a friend’s home address, but after the death of his caring friend, Henry lost that vital mailing address. Finally, he met another kind soul who agreed to allow him to use her address, and Henry set off to the library to seek help in re-applying for SNAP benefits..
Our outreach specialist informed him that even with an expedited application, he would have to wait at least four days to be able to buy any food. He literally had nothing. Seeing the desperation in his eyes, the specialist gave him a gift card to Winn-Dixie that she happened to have in her bag. Henry reached for the card without a word, and then broke down. Our specialist said she could nothing in that moment but give Henry a hug and cry along with him.
After also providing Henry with a referral to a local food pantry program that receives food through Second Harvest Food Bank, our specialist bid him good bye and good luck. She was grateful that so many of our neighbors like Henry have at least some kind of safety net. Without the SNAP program, and without the support of local charitable food programs, literally millions of our American neighbors would have nowhere to turn.