Thursday, April 16, 2009

From the front lines at the food shelf

The numbers of people coming for food assistance are up. As unemployment rises, people who have never needed help meeting their basic needs are finding themselves in a terrible position; they need to ask for charity in order to feed their family.

The 30 plus food shelves served by Second Harvest North Central Food Bank are reporting alarming increases in the numbers of local people coming for help. These aren’t people passing through or coming here for the “good social services system.” They are people who were donating their time or money to these same food shelves last year. Try to imagine how difficult it is to walk through the door of a food shelf in your home community and ask for help…. How many people go hungry because they just can’t make themselves ask for assistance?

On Tuesday, a woman appearing confused and distraught walked in the door of the Grand Rapids food shelf, looked around, and went back out to the parking lot. A short time later she walked in and, once again, left without talking to anyone. The third time she came in, she had finally gotten enough courage to go through the process and ask for help. She was treated with kindness and respect and left with several days worth of food for her family. What a terrible situation for this person to be in; educated, formerly employed and self sufficient, but now a food shelf recipient.

This story is being repeated at every hunger relief organization in the country right now. People are hurting. Your neighborhood food shelf is providing food and hope.

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