In our country, hunger is hard to see. Fortunately, we don’t see Americans with distended bellies and swollen limbs on the evening news.
But even though few Americans are starving, one in six of them doesn’t always know where their next meal will come from.
Teachers tell stories of children taking ketchup packets from school—to make soup for supper. Employers notice increases in absenteeism and errors and declines in productivity. Hungry Americans themselves may not look different, but they often feel stomach pain and light-headedness—sometimes at dangerous moments.
And one thing hungry Americans almost always feel is shame. Here are some of their stories:
Stepping out of the shadow of Vietnam
Vietnam, 1975. Aurelius was just 17 years old, but he held the lives of his fellow servicemen in his hands. His job was to dismantle missiles and unexploded ammunition, bombs and grenades. You can imagine how one wrong move meant almost certain death. And how the stress took its toll. When Aurelius got out of the service, he entered a dark time in his life.
Until one day, things started to change.
“I see a sign in the window that said, ‘hot lunch for veterans on Friday,’ and I was so looking forward to going in there on that Friday,” said Aurelius.
When he entered the veterans’ assistance site, the staff nourished him with groceries provided by one of Feeding America’s food banks and helped him access the medical care, housing, education and other services he needed to get his life back on track.
“When I came into the [veterans’ assistance site], they didn’t shoot straight because they were aiming for my stomach, but they hit my heart,” said Aurelius.
Help came just in time for Aurelius because he had been struggling to feed his son. And now he can provide the healthy food his son needs to grow up strong and healthy.
“I just give [Feeding America and the veteran’s assistance site] kudos. They’ve been of help to me, and my son is living proof,” said Aurelius. “When I can look at my son, and see his achievements, that’s more rewarding for me than anything they could have done for me.”
Today, Aurelius speaks at events that bring attention to veterans’ needs and works with at-risk youth and adults at his church.
When he speaks to people who are struggling, he tells them, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what your circumstances are, you can rise above. … There is help for you.
More stories from our community
The grandmother and volunteer
The volunteer and transplant recipient
The health seeker
The food pantry coordinator
The aspiring film student
Stories from the Campau Park Mobile Pantry
The Gulf War Veteran
Mother, Student, Mobile Pantry Client