Imagine this: It’s Tuesday. You get paid on Friday. You are out of money from an unanticipated car repair. You are out of food and have some hungry mouths to feed. What do you do?
September is Hunger Action Month. It is a month to reflect on the abundance enjoyed in this great country and remember those who don’t always have access to it. Food banks around the country work every day to shrink Tuesday into Wednesday and Wednesday into Thursday, helping make each paycheck stretch all the way to Friday.
The United Food Bank recently experienced one of those unanticipated expenses. Our freezer broke, and we lost food that could have gone to feed hungry people. Despite our physical check on Saturday and our alarm system, the failure wasn’t caught until Monday morning. With a sense of dread, I read a text from Benito, our Director of Operations, “Are you awake, we need to talk!” Our great team quickly put together a plan, salvaged and distributed as much food as possible, and began work to “fix the freezer.”
The generosity of the community was overwhelming. When Sen. John McCain tweeted about our need, an hour later our website crashed from all the donor traffic. We received donations from all over the country and as far away as Greece. I felt like Jimmy Stewart at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The outpouring of concern and help were humbling.
Our freezer is fixed. It’s almost full again. We are developing additional systems to help prevent another catastrophe. We cannot express adequate appreciation to our community and all those who supported us, but we thank you. We appreciate the support. Even with the best laid plans, unanticipated accidents happen, so is the journey of many in our community.
Together, we can turn Tuesday into Friday. Feeding people is simply not enough. We must teach, train and mentor those who struggle. We must build resumes, attain better educational levels, and have stable, affordable housing. Hunger Action isn’t just about food. It’s about breaking the cycle of poverty. We can’t continue to measure success through the number of pounds we distribute or the number of people we feed. It’s time to step back and look at the big picture then work ourselves out of a job. As our clientele achieves a measure of self-sufficiency, fewer and fewer people will need the food bank. That’s ok. In partnership with our agencies, will teach them to fish. Just handing out fish is no longer enough.
Remember, September is Hunger Action Month, a month when we stand together and speak with one voice. It’s a month to spread the word about the hunger crisis in our community and dedicate ourselves to a solution. It takes more than food to fight hunger. It takes an entire community of support. Let’s do this and help fight hunger together.
During September, take action to help your neighbors in need by holding a food drive for the United Food Bank at your school, church or workplace. Every food donation received by United Food Bank adds up and makes a difference.
Looking for a service project? Have your group hold a fundraiser to alleviate hunger. If you know of someone facing a financial crisis, surprise them with some groceries. Also, let them know they can go to www.unitedfoodbank.org to find the nearest food pantry where they can turn for additional support. Consider another option: simply give a donation today at https://unitedfoodbank.org/wc/donation/. Our mission is to feed hungry people, and we’ve been doing it since 1983.
Dave Richins is President and CEO of United Food Bank and resides in Mesa. He can be contacted at [email protected].