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:
Mother, Student, Mobile Pantry Client
On a single-digit morning in January, Hannah stood in line at the Mobile Food Pantry at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grand Haven.
With her hood pulled up against the cold, Hannah described her first year studying for a human service degree at Baker College. The last several months had been a struggle. Until September, both Hannah and her husband had been working, supporting themselves and their young son. But Hannah made it one week into her classes before she realized something had to give.
“If I worked, everything I would be working for would go into childcare …,” she said. “So I stay home with my son, and I go to school at night.”
Her husband’s income puts them over the food assistance threshold by just $20 a week. The family is barely skating over the poverty line.
“We were eating dinner at my mom’s a lot,” Hannah said with a brief laugh.
It was her mom who spotted a sign for the Mobile Pantry at St. Patrick’s. The food is good, and the abundance of vegetables makes it possible to cook healthy meals for her family.
“It’s helped a lot,” she said.
Someday, Hannah won’t need to stand in the January snow to collect food. Her son will start school, and she’ll complete her degree. But until then, resources like the Mobile Pantry at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church will help her get by.
You can learn more about Mobile Food Pantries here.
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