Often it’s easy to misunderstand issues that don’t directly affect you or your family. I’ve seen the campaigns and heard the requests to support local food banks, but I didn’t really understand the mission behind food banks. I’ve always passively contributed by having a few dollars added to my grocery bill or dropping off 5 or 6 cans of food to support a local food drive and I’d feel good about doing my part to help.
Then, I watched my brother’s world get rocked by an unexpected illness, and my understanding of hunger and who it affects changed forever.
I think there’s a common misconception that hunger is often the side effect of poor life choices and that it can’t affect them. I’m not proud of it, but I’m certainly guilty of some of these thoughts myself. I never expected to see my hardworking brother’s financial security stripped away in a matter of months due to an illness that put him out of work for a few months.
After 5 hospital admissions in 2 months, his family’s savings were wiped away as they were tapped to pay the mortgage, utilities, and growing medical bills. His wife struggled with the cost of gas as she tried to juggle being with him during his extended hospital stays 3 hours from their home while being a stay-at-home mom to 2 young sons. For the first time, I watched someone struggle with the very real decision of keeping the lights on or buying groceries. And, it hit way too close to home.
Family and friends stepped in to help fill the gap however we could, but I realized not everyone has that kind of support. My eyes were opened to just how fast a family’s security can be ripped away by circumstances that are often difficult to adequately plan for—illness, loss of a job, the loss of a family’s primary breadwinner.
The thought of children like my nephews or my own sons going without food is devastating, and it’s heartbreaking to think of parents who are doing the best they can but feel like they are letting their families down.
After seeing hunger through new eyes, I’m excited to support the Food Bank and its mission to make sure no one goes hungry in central and eastern North Carolina.
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