There are still some heroes in our midst, many of whom work at local food banks. In big cities and rural villages, they do their best to feed the hungry. Supported by religious organizations of every denomination, with help from local groceries, businesses and private citizens who don’t want their neighbors to go hungry, they provide food for people who otherwise might not eat.
Food banks operate quietly in almost every community. These are the places that make it possible to not send the kids to bed hungry. They give food without requiring a lot of paperwork. They help while trying to let those they help maintain their dignity. They do not judge. They are friendly, smiling, and act like what they do is no big deal. Think nothing of it, they say. Being poor is not shameful in their eyes.
There is nothing scarier than knowing there is nothing to eat and no money to buy food. Poverty is painful, humiliating, and frightening. The big bad wolf is not merely at the door, he’s in the house.
Poverty isn’t limited to the lazy, drug users, or any particular group or class. It is part of the daily lives of the elderly, a familiar companion to anyone on a fixed income. It haunts the working poor, the disabled, and many who have been hit by “life accidents” from the closing of the plant where they used to work, to illness, fire, flood, or other calamity.
What all these people have in common is they have been assaulted and beaten by events over which they had no control. Government agencies are not user-friendly and frequently so rules-bound it’s impossible to live long enough to get help, even if you theoretically qualify.
The people who run food banks — the staff, organizers, local businesses and plain folk who work to make food available to those who need it — are unsung heroes. I would just like to thank you. You have kept many of us going when we had nowhere else to turn.
You’re the good guys and we need more of you in our world.