Monthly Archives: January 2012
If we’re passionate about advocating for the hungry, we must first know the hungry. We need to understand not just what they can or cannot eat, but most importantly who those who hunger are. As a new face in the daily fight against hunger in the State of Iowa, I have quickly learned hunger does not discriminate. Hunger doesn’t only affect certain geographical locations, certain races or certain economic classes. Want to know what else hunger doesn’t do? It doesn’t give a voice to those being crushed by its weight. I hope this post gives you some insight about the hungry in Iowa I’ve met, those who have lost their voice, those we fight for.
Janice* is Hungry *(all names have been changed to protect client’s identity)
When I first saw Janice* I could tell by her cane, headscarf, and warm smile that her story was a powerful one. As I talked with the group of people around her about SNAP benefits Janice looked hopeful and informed me, “I’ll be right over” in a quiet voice. As we began working through the online application she shared the struggles her family had been facing putting food on the table while trying to keep her well. Janice is a breast cancer survivor, who like many, was crippled by the costs of traveling to and from hospital visits and purchasing medication and treatments. Janice reminded me, we are all faced with choices but choosing whether to eat dinner or afford medicine should never be one of them. Janice is hungry.
George* is Hungry
George* is a proud American. George served his country in the Air Force and married his high school sweetheart. He lives in the same small town in Eastern Iowa where he was raised. George and his wife raised three children who all went to college and are raising children with the values George and his wife taught them: work hard, be honest and help others. Unfortunately, those values aren’t putting food on George’s table these days. George is a senior citizen who lives alone and daily attends the senior meal his senior citizen center offers, but that leaves two meals for George to afford on his own every day. George served his country, contributed to his community and lived an honest life. George is hungry.
LeAnn and Alex* are Hungry
LeAnn has a two year old daughter and recently married Alex. These young parents are patient and kind with their daughter and I watched as they taught her about healthy snacks and meals. Alex and LeAnn were doing well a couple years ago and were thrilled when they found out they were expecting. Soon after they celebrated the birth of their daughter Alex was laid off. LeAnn and Alex are struggling to pay rent, afford utilities and provide food for their young family. LeAnn and Alex would like to open a savings account, prepare for when their baby goes to college and feed their daughter food that will help her grow big and strong, but hunger won’t allow for that. LeAnn and Alex are hungry.
The stories above don’t even begin to share all the stories of those who hunger. There are over 382,000 of these stories, the stories of the over 382,000 Iowans who live next door to us, who go to our same church, and who struggle against hunger. When you hear about Janice, George and LeAnn and Alex I hope you are able to see them as Iowans, as people who deserve a chance and as someone worth fighting for.
Help us in giving Janice, George and LeAnn and Alex a voice. Stand with us in the fight against hunger.
Today, we remember the immeasurable debt our country owes to Martin Luther King Jr. On this day in particular I cannot help but be inspired by the words spoken by this great man.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
If readers took anything from my previous post, I hope it was a sense that feeding the hungry is not an issue of entitlement; it is not a place for anything but altruism; and it is certainly not a place for judgment. Any person going hungry in this world, our country and in the State of Iowa is an injustice and therefore a threat to justice everywhere.
Last Wednesday, the Iowa Food Bank Association had the chance to partner with many wonderful organizations that stand by our side in the fight against hunger. Together with the United Ways of Iowa, Food Bank of Iowa, Des Moines Area Religious Council, and Senator Jeff Danielson, we held a forum at the capitol building in Des Moines to educate central Iowa legislators on the issue of hunger and our proposed legislation. We collaborated with the United Ways of Iowa to hold similar forums throughout Iowa this past summer, and we plan to continue exposing hunger in Iowa through future forums..
I was asked after the event how this forum compared to others hosted throughout the state. In most senses it was fairly similar. The attendance matched those of other forums, the number of legislators in attendance was fairly standard and the agenda was almost verbatim from past events. However, there was most definitely one big difference: the atmosphere.
The Iowa state capitol building is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen, and the room in which we held the forum holds true to that standard. However, it is not just the appearance of the place that creates the atmosphere. It is the feeling I get as I approach Des Moines from the interstate, pull in to the parking lot and beginning walking towards the golden dome. It is a feeling that this is a place where change can happen, this is place where I can make my voice heard, and this is a place where I can fight social injustice. That ambiance resonated in the vaulted ceilings of the room, and our words felt magnified by the power the capitol building exudes.
However, words are fleeting and so is their power. No matter how much momentum a bellowing freight train has it will eventually come to a halt if fuel is not added to the fire. Voices of hunger advocates may have resonated through the halls of the capitol for an hour, maybe a day or possibly even longer, but without new voices joining the chorus and fueling the fire our message will slow to a halt and be passed by another message that is being fueled by a stronger fire.
My call to you is to not simply read, learn and possibly feel inspired, but to stand up and make your voice heard. Help us to gather the momentum we need to no longer allow hungry Iowans to be ignored and marginalized. Help us to expose hunger as the injustice that it is and join the fight to preserve justice for all.
To learn more and TAKE ACTION go to http://iowafba.org/TakeAction.aspx
Welcome to the Iowa Food Bank Association’s blog. Here we will discuss the issue of hunger in Iowa and elsewhere. We will attempt to paint a real picture of the lives of hungry Iowans and those who are fighting to alleviate their plight.
We hope that you learn about hunger, and are inspired to Take Action! We look forward to you joining our efforts to feeding hungry Iowans!
You can learn more about IFBA at www.IowaFBA.org.