Julia Hubler is both a client and volunteer at her local food pantry. A former school teacher, she was left disabled by a car accident years ago and is no longer able to work. Still wanting to give back to her community, she became a volunteer at the food pantry three years ago. Now with her own family recently falling on hard times, she finds herself relying on the food pantry for food as well.
We wouldn’t make it through the month without this place helping us with our groceries,” Julia explains. “Our income is very limited. While my husband has started to receive disability, with the bills that need to be paid, there is never enough left over for groceries. Without this program, it would be hard. I do have a good support system; family members help out. But we depend on this program. We really do.”
Julia is not the exception to the rule as far as being both a food pantry client and a volunteer. Many pantry volunteers also receive food themselves. Julia sees this as key ingredient as to why they work in such empathetic harmony with the clients coming in.
“With volunteering, I have a lot of people, when they see me out in the community, come up to me and say, ‘You guys do such great, wonderful work. We wouldn’t be able to feed our children without this.’ And they know I’m in the same boat as they are. So, they are more comfortable with coming and talking to me. It makes me feel very good to be able to be on both ends (as a client and volunteer) and be able to understand where everyone is coming from. The volunteers who also receive food are more patient and more caring toward the people who come through. They’ve all been there ate some point in their lives — they really have.”
The support we receive allows us to give Julia, and the thousands of other clients like her, better access to better, more nutritious food. Our network, is quite simply, better together.
*Julia’s story appears in the January 2020 Food For Thought newsletter. To read the entire edition, click here.