In mine and many other communities in the United States hunger is a real issue. Many children go hungry every night and sometimes their only meals are the ones they receive at school. This is both a heartbreaking and a devastating fact. How are children and adults still hungry in the richest nation? Feeding America recently released it’s Hunger in America 2014 report. As I read the report I couldn’t believe one in seven Americans, including 12 million children, turn to the Feeding America Food Bank networks for food assistance. Hunger remains a serious issue in our country… Millions of Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from. Are you asking how you can help? It’s so easy. The Walmart Foundation recently launched Fight Hunger! Spark Change! a nation wide campaign that is calling on the public to get involved by voting online at www.walmart.com/fightinghunger for their local food bank. From now to Oct. 5th people can cast one vote per day that will help direct grants to participating Feeding America food banks and local agencies across the nation. This campaign will provide 3.7 million in grants. Walmart is teaming up with six of the largest food companies (General Mills, ConAgra Foods, Kelloggs, Hormel, Unilever, and PepsiCo./Quaker) in the nation to support the participating food banks across the country. The 50 winning food banks will each receive a $60,000 dollar grant. The campaign also provides information on how you can donate or volunteer to take direct action in the fight against hunger. How amazing is that? Please go to this link and cast your vote today. Let’s help fight hunger, and spark change.
Last week I had the chance to chat about hunger relief with Jillian Wade, data and development coordinator from Food Share in Oxnard: Ventura County’s Food Bank. I was thankful she took time out of her busy day to help us understand more clearly what this campaign means to her food bank. Here is what she had to say.
- What sparked your interest in hunger relief?
Jillian: Serving my community was a huge pull for me. I live in a wonderfully diverse community with resources surrounding us every day. It surprised me that with food surrounding our community, access to food was difficult. Working in nonprofit is wonderful and rewarding work, and being able to be a part of the solution every day is an honor. I go home every day to a stocked fridge and prepare a healthy meal for my family, I want my neighbors to have that ability also.
- What does hunger look like in our local community?
Jillian: Hunger doesn’t look very different from those who may be food secure. They are our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. They work two jobs and have kids in our schools. The struggle for food security isn’t necessarily what history has told us. When a family struggles to put a healthy meal on the table it is an internal emotional struggle too.
- What is your day like working at the food bank?
Jillian: My day starts and ends with a message. I am often on the phone with our donors and stakeholders offering thanks and invitations. As best as we can spread that message about hunger while also engaging opportunity, the better! I often get to work with our wonderful volunteers who are the heart of FOOD Share and share stories of how far we have come.
- Tell me about a client who inspired you.
Jillian: A few months back, I met a wonderful woman who called to ask for help. She was confined to her bed after a bad fall and was having difficulty finding help. She had been retired for many years and had previously worked and volunteered in the nonprofit industry. She lived on social security income and a small pension check from her late husband. With her recent injury, medical bills were mounting and basic needs were being ignored to pay for medication. She was afraid of utility bill notices and didn’t want to open mail. She described her past few months, terrified of judgment and a closed door. We talked for a long time on the phone and walked through the nearest pantry, which was just a few blocks from her home. We discussed resources and available assistance in the community. She was grateful and proud that the community she lived, worked and volunteered in, was the same community that would help her in her time of need. She offered to help out at FOOD Share and give a donation as soon as she was able. She didn’t see her help as payment and simply said, without “FOOD Share I wouldn’t be talking with you right now? Then where would I be?”
- Are you excited about the Fight Hunger. Spark Change campaign? How could the grant help your food bank?
Jillian: We are so excited about the Fight Hunger. Spark Change campaign. It is a great opportunity for our food bank to provide thousands of meals to our community, refrigeration units to our pantries who can then start distributing fresh and healthy produce to our clients. The grant actually helps our friends sleep better at night and get the help they need!
I felt so inspired by Jillian and her candid answers, and rushed to my computer to cast my vote towards helping the fight against hunger and sparking a change! Help your local community by voting today! It will only take a few minutes.
Watch the video below and see how your vote can make a difference for a family that struggles with food security.
I am absolutely proud to be a Walmart Mom and support Walmart in spreading the word on this campaign. It warms my heart that they have taken the lead on trying to feed our nation’s hungry.