Published May 5, 2009
In many ways – even during a steep economic downturn – America is still “the land of plenty.” While many of us have had to make sacrifices in response to the current recession, we still have our basic needs met, and we even enjoy some extra comforts and little luxuries from time to time. With roofs over our heads and full stomachs, it’s difficult to truly grasp the concept of being hungry. Yet, right now millions of Americans are struggling with hunger. For 1 in 8 Americans, hunger is a harsh, daily reality.
When a person doesn’t have enough food – the most basic human need – stability in other areas of life is impossible. Thanks to the services of organizations like Hopelink in Washington, thousands of men, women, and children do not feel alone in their struggle with hunger. They have a place to turn when they find themselves falling off the edge, financially.
Hopelink has provided food for survival and education for self-sufficiency since 1971. At each of its six food bank centers, this organization offers nutritious food, baby items, and personal care products to the homeless, the working poor, seniors, and people with disabilities. Hopelink volunteers also make weekly deliveries to clients who are homebound. In the course of a typical year, Hopelink food banks serve over 13,000 individuals and distribute close to 3 million pounds of food.
Of course, this was no typical year.
According to the latest state jobs report, as seen in the Seattle Times, “Washington’s economy is deteriorating at a pace not seen since modern record-keeping began more than three decades ago.” The unemployment rate, which stood at 6.5 percent as recently as December of 2008, has risen by half a percentage point or more each of the past three months, landing at 9.2 percent by April. In the Seattle area, local start-ups have taken a big hit. Many start-ups have had to shut their doors completely, putting thousands of people out of work. Other larger companies have decreased the size of their staff by 20% or more. Similar statistics can be found in the areas surrounding our other Trilogy communities in California, Arizona, and Florida.
As you can imagine, when the joblessness rate increases, the demand for relief at food banks increases at a similar pace. “The number of families served at Hopelink’s six food banks has increased approximately 26% over the past year,” says a Hopelink staff member. “And requests for emergency food bags have increased 71 percent during the same period. More food is leaving our six food banks than is currently coming in. We need the community’s help to feed the thousands in need.”
The members of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge are responding to this call for community help. Through their Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, they’ll be holding a massive community food drive on July 15th. They hope to gather 20,000 pounds of non-perishable food items for donation to the Hopelink food banks in Carnation and Redmond, Washington, where food supplies are dwindling. Trilogy at Redmond Ridge members hope to show their struggling neighbors that they are not alone and that their community cares deeply for them.
Faces of Hunger
Who visits a food bank for relief from hunger? The answer might surprise you. Many people believe that hunger is a problem associated with small pockets of society, confined to certain areas of the country or certain neighborhoods. In reality, the faces of hunger often include hard-working adults, children, and seniors who simply can’t make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even several days. Today, several of us might have been in contact with people affected by hunger without even knowing it.
“I am not proud that I need help,” says Heather Moran, a single mother, a member of the Army Reserve, and a Hopelink client. “The first time I came to the food bank, I came after work and was the only person there in uniform. People were staring at me, which made me feel odd. I have had to get over this feeling, because Hopelink has relieved a lot of worry and anxiety for my family.”
Since Heather has an income, she does not qualify for DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) assistance, food stamps, or any other state or federal programs. However, there are many times when Heather’s family falls into the abyss that exists for people who make too little to cover their basic bills and too much to qualify for most aid programs. Day to day life can feel like an impossible challenge for hard-working Americans like Heather. By providing food, and by offering education to promote self-sufficiency, Hopelink is making lasting change for all members of the community. “By having Hopelink in my life,” Heather explains, “my family has been able to move forward.”
(Article continued on page 2.)