We may think that only the unemployed or homeless use food pantries, but that simply is not true, according to Will Hernandez, Director of the Valley Food Bank. “We are seeing increasing numbers of working families, commonly known as the working poor,” he said.
In addition, the majority of seniors were found to be food insecure, according to Feeding America. Senior citizens living on a Social Security income often have to choose between buying food or paying medical and utility bills.
A layoff, an accident, a long-term illness, or other unexpected events can have a huge impact on a family already struggling to make ends meet. “Seeing so many families in need, especially children, reminds all of us how easily our lives can take a turn for the worse without any notice,” said Hernandez. And when a family’s food budget is slashed, caring about nutrition drops down on the priority scale. It is very understandable that people who need to ask for food from a local food pantry can feel ashamed or embarrassed. This is why food pantry volunteers can make it easier. While volunteering, it is important to create an atmosphere of love and dignity, since most clients are low on that. Food pantry donations are essential of course, but moral support and encouragement are other much-needed gifts volunteers can give.
While food donations are essential and appreciated, pantries can stock their shelves and feed more people with financial gifts. It is a misconception that the city, state or federal government funds us; we are a private non-profit agency with the majority of our funding coming from individuals and local businesses. Financial donations go a lot further because the food bank has access to wholesale prices that individuals do not.
Please help us end our year with a positive balance sheet so we can focus on more help to the community and not have to cut back support in any way.