Something to chew on

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Face of Hunger

Wednesday evening, to kick off this food pantry project, all the bloggers involved met at the Capital Area Food Bank for a tour and some great (and even staggering) information about hunger in Central Texas. (For instance: The food bank has seen a 60 percent increase in usage compared to this time a year ago.) Lisa Goddard, CAFB's online marketing director, was our tour guide and host for the evening, and I remember her saying that even in just the five years that she's been working there, she's seen the face of hunger change.

It's not just the face of the homeless man asking for spare change on the street. The face of hunger belongs the young married couple who just spent every dime repairing their only car so that they can both get to work, or even look for work. The face of hunger belongs to the proud grandmother of 12 who takes several medicines each day and needs a little bit of help making sure she's eating the right foods for those meds to work correctly. And I found out Wednesday night that at one short period in my life, my face could have been considered the face of hunger.

When I was about two years old and my parents were still married, we moved to Austin and lived over off of Duval. Mom stayed home with me and Daddy was a plumber's apprentice. He brought home about $75 a week.

"When you're in the construction world and the weather's bad, you just don't work," Mom told me. So we took advantage of the commodities program. "It wasn't called a food pantry or food bank back then," she said, "but it served the same purpose."

Talking more with Mom the next morning about it, she recalled 5 lb. blocks of cheese, 3 lb. blocks of "real" butter and industrial sized cans of Spam. "You really had to be creative!"

I don't remember any of this, and I don't remember a time in my life where I ever truly felt need. Mom made sure of that. And I for one am very glad the she took the initiative to seek out such programs. I also now understand where my love of fried Spam sandwiches comes from.

Wanna honor my mom -- or heck, even your own -- the day before Mother's Day? Look for the Stamp Out Hunger bag in your mailbox soon and simply leave it there on Saturday, May 8, filled with non-perishable foods for your mail carrier to deliver to the food bank. I'll be filling mine to the very top!

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