While in college, I worked as a counselor for at-risk children and teens. I worked at a middle school, which after school hours, served as a safe zone for children and teenagers who lived in the city’s high-crime areas. Five nights a week, from 5 to 7 p.m., the school offered a free hot meal to any child aged 1 to 18. While general program attendance varied day to day, the dinner hour was always bustling.
It has been nearly 20 years since I worked at this school, but many stories have stayed with me over the years.
I can still remember one family like it was yesterday. Every evening, at 5 p.m. sharp, a father would usher his four small beautiful, well-behaved children into the cafeteria and wait in line. He’d carefully help them get their trays of food and situate them at a table. Then, he’d sit next to them and watch them eat. Quietly, without eating one single bite. Night after night, I too watched these children eat; I watched their father watch them.
Over time, I started sitting with this family during dinner, and while I never learned the father’s name, I learned so much more from him. I learned that he was a single father by circumstance. I learned that he once had a stable, good job; that he was hard working. He was kind and gentle. I learned he lost his job because he was terminally ill, fighting for his life. Fighting for his children. Fighting through embarrassment, and unwarranted shame, as he kept his head held high. I watched him selflessly do whatever it took to put warm food in his kids’ bellies.
I’ll never forget this man. In fact, it was this family that immediately came to mind when I heard about The Grocery Outlet’s 5th Annual Independence From Hunger Food Drive.
Beginning July 1, Grocery Outlets across the nation are teaming up with local food agencies to donate food. This drive is happening in our community too.
Grocery Outlets in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and Gardnerville will partner with The Reno Gospel Mission, the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission, Carson Valley Community Food Closet, Dayton Food Pantry to gather donations and distribute them to families in need. All donations collected at each store will directly impact people in our community.
Let’s rally together, RMB community, to help families in need. There are plenty of them out there.
According to the Food Research and Action Center, 6 out of 7 low-income kids who eat a free or reduced-price school lunch during the academic year do not get a free meal during the summer. The USDA also reports that 1 in every 6 Americans is food insecure.
It’s so easy to participate. Just visit your local Grocery Outlet store and….
- Look for specially-marked food items. These are items that each local food agency has identified as “high-need” items. Purchase these products and then place in the collection bin at the front of the store.
- Pick up a pre-made bag that is filled with an assortment of the groceries that have been identified as needed.
- Tell your cashier you want to make a cash donation at the register. Donations will go directly to that store’s local food agency partner. Donate $1, $5 or round up your change.
- Pickup information at a Grocery Outlet store about hunger, food insecurity and resources for people in need. Be informed and willing to help.
The face of poverty can be hard to recognize, but it’s there, and together through campaigns like this one, we can make a difference.