When you think of hunger what comes to mind? Do you imagine someone you know? Do you see a family or a child? I talked with the folks at Arkansas Foodbank recently about what hunger looks like in Arkansas. The answer might surprise you, it did me. The face of hunger looks different than what you might have imagined.
It looks like a single mother who is working two jobs, trying to make ends meet.
It looks like a senior on a fixed income who needs to pay bills and eat this month.
It looks like a child at school, dreading Christmas break because they won’t be getting breakfast and lunch each day.
Or it might even look like your neighbor, your co-worker, or your friends. You never know when life will happen, and unfortunately when hunger will happen, but that’s why the Arkansas Foodbank exists – to help fill those gaps in times of need.
I asked Emily Gassman, the Communications Director at the Foodbank to share a story about what the face of hunger looks like. She told me a sad, but also beautiful story from a Saline County school. We have several schools in our community that partner with the Foodbank for their Backpack Program. Emily visited one of the schools and got to talk to some of the students that help pack the backpacks to hand out every Friday. She asked one of the students why she helped pack the food every week.
The student looked her in the eye and said “I used to be hungry and I don’t want anyone else to ever feel like that.”
For me personally, that’s shattering. This is a child. A child that, at such a young age, understood the impact of hunger. That child is the face of hunger in our community but also the face of hope. She is on the other side and already giving back to help others. So humbling and simple.
Food is so important. I love food, and apparently, so do you. If you follow MySaline at all, you know I love talking about our local eateries. When I write about new dining experiences coming to town, those articles are among the most popular ones I publish, and they are shared widely. Comments about new restaurants on MySaline’s social media show that residents can’t wait to get their hands on whatever is coming next.
That food becomes important in a really different way when you’re unable to get your hands on it at all. This time of year can be a painful reminder of hunger for those that can’t provide a holiday meal for their family. Did you know Arkansas ranks #2 in the nation for hunger? Or that 1 in 5 Arkansans struggle with hunger?
Did you know that in Saline County alone, it is estimated that nearly 14,000 individuals are facing hunger? You can help ensure those facing hunger in our community have nourishing food to fill their plates. Donate right now at this link.. Every $1 donated provides food for five meals, and it will benefit pantries and schools right here in our community.
As you gather with your family this holiday season, remember what the face of hunger looks like. Remember this precious child who was hungry but doesn’t want anyone to feel hunger anymore. Together we can face hunger and make Saline county an even better community.
HERE’S THAT LINK TO DONATE: