August 03, 2020

POV: Thanks for Putting Food on the Tables of Our Hungry Neighbors

This year we have all been challenged in ways that I am certain we won’t know the full scale or impact of for years to come. And it’s always hard when you’re in the thick of any crisis to see the full picture. The full picture comes years, sometimes decades, later.

As examples—my Great Grandmother Elmira lived through the Great Depression and saved everything because she wasn’t ever really sure if she’d have to go without or if the items she had access to right then would be available in the future. I remember cleaning out her home in 2002 and we carried out bundles of elastic and fabric and took care to inspect each jar and can because of her habit of burying money. Additionally, I remember hearing stories from some ladies I knew who also lived through the 1930’s. While visiting together and enjoying coffee and pastries they often told stories about doing the same activity but having to bring their own toilet paper and sugar when they visited their friends. According to them, everyone knew that the other was suffering and getting by with very little and no one wanted to be a burden.

I was a child when the 1980’s Recession wreaked havoc. There was very little work, but each morning my dad left the left the house to find a job—any job. We often went grocery shopping in the food pantries of my grandparents. There was a lot of rice and beans—sometimes we had meat; most times we did not. 

Now in 2020, I listen to news stories recapping the various times in our histories where our financial markets have tanked and the unemployment rates have soared. And the stories are similar—people are hungry, homeless, and/or jobless.

I no longer find myself in a working-class home. I sit solidly in the middle class, as do my sister and our parents. But I still live in the working-class neighborhood where I was raised—a community hugely impacted by COVID-19 and the majority of my neighbors are either Latino or Polynesian families. And I have a rare privilege (that many of my neighbors do not) that I can work from home and my income has not been impacted during this economic crisis and global pandemic. So on the rare occasion that I leave my home I see what the news is calling Modern Day Bread Lines. imagejpeg 1UNA Communications Coordinator delivering groceries
There are long lines that snake through parking lots and side streets where cars are lined up in a procession to receive food and other necessities. It’s a sight that breaks my heart. Especially in light of recent news that 30 million people in our country did not have enough food to eat last week.

Hunger is not a trait that should be part of our American DNA. We are a country that is rich and resourceful. Charitable nonprofits across our state (and country) have been filling the gaps left bare from the government and private industry for hundreds of years and I’m grateful for that. Because my neighbors are hurting and are hungry and so are yours. There is so much going on in the world right now and it seems less relevant to push Race, Equity, and Diversity (REDI) resources, or board best practices, or even our UNA Annual Conference when I know that beyond my four walls exists a space where so many are living without. For this month’s blog I want dearly to thank you for contributing financially to organizations that are helping our neighbors put food on the table. This pandemic and economic crisis will live on for a while and hopefully we will surprise our future selves with the picture of how we weathered this storm with compassion, resolve, and grace.