Do the hungry deserve a bail out? A food bank leader weighs in.

 

Suzan Bateson, Executive Director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank, offered this comment  and perspective on  Sue Brockway’s post suggesting that the hungry deserve a bail out, too. We thought it compelling enough to stand on its own as an entry.

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We can’t wait for a government bail out for the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, California.

An unprecedented spike in need has us scrambling to hand out food for today and hope for tomorrow by working on policies that we hope will brighten the future. We have an amazing outreach team that helps connect as many families as we can with the federal supplemental nutrition assistance (food stamp) program — that takes time, and these days with layoffs and underemployment, high food prices, and a 40% spike in clients who need food right now — time is our enemy.  We distribute millions of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each year and find a great deal of pride in that. Our operations team works harder than they knew they could to turn product around swiftly. Finance team keeps a close eye on our financials and oversees our administration while development works tirelessly to raise funds, food drive donations and create amazing events (you know you’ve seen us in action). I walk among angels each day with our staff, agency partners, board and donors — who strive to conquer hunger in our community.

We serve tens of thousands of hungry children. Children’s health is affected by improper nutrition — but even more delicate is their emotional state when parents work more than one job but can’t afford adequate nutrition for their family. Illness, depression, isolation and hopelessness can lead to a gang’s allure or academic failure. This is our future, America, how can we ignore our children.

Last week a 92 year old called the food helpline. He had never asked for help in his life. Our helpline operators take calls like these each day. They have more compassion than you can imagine. They take in more than anyone should ever hear.

How can you help? Many who read this won’t be able to make big financial gifts — but America is a wealthy country and has many wealthy citizens. Over the next couple of years it will be essential for Americans to give — at their greatest capacity — to basic needs organizations like food banks. With 36 million Americans affected by hunger it’s clear that we have a crisis that will play out in the future if we don’t provide a safety net today.

Sue, thanks for your work and your challege to speak up. Sometimes the work takes us to the limit, but it’s important that we share a snapshot of Main Street with those who will take our words to heart.

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We’re always eager to provide space in this forum for hunger fighters who would offer their perspective.  We’ll gladly link back to your own online space should you do so.

 

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