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Embrace Hunger Relief Week Follow Up - A Personal Story

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This story is the second part of a two part series originally posted by Snak Stash and is reposted with permission. Click here to read the first story.

Embrace Hunger Relief Week and Hunger Action Month have wrapped up.  Donation barrels have been emptied and items boxed up, monetary donations tallied and sent, and skids of product have been added to the Central PA Food Bank’s roster.  Of course, the whirlwind of activity hasn’t died down here at Dutch Valley Foods, so my attention was diverted from writing this blog for longer than I would have liked.  At first, I thought it might be pointless to write a belated follow-up to my last blog about Hunger Relief.  But really, this issue doesn’t have a “best time” or a “best forum.”  People struggle with hunger every single day, year round, year after year.  So I suppose now is as good a time as any to share a very personal story with you – my own experience as a recipient of aid from a food pantry.

About fifteen years ago, I was a single mom struggling to make ends meet on my own, caring for my young son and living three thousand miles away from my family.  I had a full time job, but made a fairly low wage, so providing shelter, utilities and food was often a balancing act that resulted in shortfalls which I tried to spread around so that I could keep things going until the next payday. When food was in short supply and I had no money for groceries, I often went without eating so that I could feed my son.  But I remember, so clearly, the day that even that wasn’t enough to make things work.  My cupboard was bare.  I mean REALLY bare.  Not like now, when I could probably throw together a hodgepodge of items, enough to make several meals, even on my worst day. No – it was empty.  I remember crying at work because I didn’t know how I was going to feed my son that evening.  I was afraid and humiliated, feeling as if I had failed the child I loved so much.  Even now, as I think about that time, I get very emotional.  Anyway, I worked at a resource center at the time, and recalled seeing a food pantry brochure.  I waited until no one was looking and copied down the address and hours of operation.

I didn’t want to go to the food pantry for help.  In retrospect, I had so many misconceptions about what the experience would be like and what going there for services would say about me.  But the prospect of having nothing to offer my son for dinner propelled me into the car during my lunch break to make the trek across town.  I sat in the parking lot for a little while, working up the courage to go in.  How would the people there react to me? Would they think I was a bad mom?  I even wondered if somehow seeking aid would cause social services to take my son away from me, saying I wasn’t able to provide for him.  Lacking any other option, I got out of the car and walked to the door.  I was prepared for the worst, and completely unprepared for what I actually found.

When I walked in the door, I must have looked like I expected to be ambushed or something, because an elderly lady who was packing a box looked up and then rushed over to me.  I started to cry and apologize, my words tumbling out in a torrent of fear and embarrassment.  This dear lady put her arms around me and told me that everything was going to be okay, that she was glad I came and glad that they could help me.  She helped me fill out a simple form, and then walked me around, helping me to select some nutritious foods that would sustain my son and me until I could receive my next pay check. She made me feel respected and cared for in a moment when I had been feeling very alone and ashamed.  In my emotional state, I neglected to ask her name, but her face is etched indelibly in my memory, as are the lessons she taught me that day.  What I learned was that life is full of ups and downs, but there really are people who care and who will reach out with their hands and hearts to help another human being in times of trouble. I also learned that sometimes we have to overcome our own internal struggles in order to allow people to help us.  That was really hard for me.

Today, I celebrate the efforts of people who give.  I also hold those who have need very close in my heart.  Giving has become a very important part of my life – in large part due to my experience at the food pantry what seems like so long ago.  But, more than just the physical part of giving, I treasure the part of giving that reminds the recipient that he or she is, indeed, most worthy to receive.


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Joe Arthur

Joe Arthur

As the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s Executive Director, Joe Arthur serves as the Food Bank’s principal ambassador, regularly presenting on the issue of hunger in Pennsylvania. Joe joined the Food Bank in 2008 after working 23 years in finance and accounting management.

Diane Powell

Diane Powell

Diane's bio will go here once we receive it. Diane's bio will go here once we receive it. Diane's bio will go here once we receive it.

David Lloyd

David Lloyd

David's bio will go here once we receive it. David's bio will go here once we receive it. David's bio will go here once we receive it.

Tara Davis

Tara Davis

Tara Davis is the SNAP Outreach Manager for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. With 15+ years of nonprofit experience, Tara has spent the last eight years fighting hunger with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Initially, Tara began her career at the Food Bank managing special events and moving on to re-designing and managing the website as well as supporting other endeavors within the Communications & Marketing Department. This past spring she became a part of the Agency Relations Department and took on the new role as SNAP Outreach Manager.

Brad Peterson

Brad Peterson

For more than five years Brad has utilized his skill and experience for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in the fight against hunger. Brad brings 20+ years of nonprofit experience in communications, marketing, public relations and branding to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and as the Director of Communications and Marketing, Brad manages all internal and external communications, public and community relations, marketing, social media and website content, special event planning and brand awareness for the Food Bank.

Katie Wetzel

Katie Wetzel

Katie Wetzel serves as the Marketing Manager at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. In her role, she supervises the design, production and distribution of Food Bank print materials and leads efforts to produce and deploy relevant and engaging content through digital communication channels. Prior to moving into her current role, Katie managed the Food Bank’s volunteer and food drive programs from 2012-2014.

Shelly Shultz

Shelly Shultz

Shelly Shultz is part of the Marketing Team at Dutch Valley Food Distributors. She is also pursuing a degree in Organizational Leadership and has a passion for helping people grow and achieve their goals.

Allan Rupert

Allan Rupert

Chef Allan Rupert, executive chef at Final Cut Steakhouse, is a graduate of America’s most renowned culinary school, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation, Chef Rupert traveled the country and worked at an array of top destination resorts and casinos including Caesars Lake Tahoe, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, the LaJallo Beach & Tennis Club, Sky City Restaurant at the Needle in Seattle and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, among others.

Harrisburg

3908 Corey Road

Harrisburg, PA 17109

717.564.1700

717.561.4636 (fax)

Office Hours:
M-TR: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Williamsport

3301 Wahoo Drive

Williamsport, PA 17701

570.321.8023

570.321.8024 (fax)

Office Hours:
M-TR: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m - 4:30 p.m.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.
EIN: #23-2202250


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