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Thankful for food pantries.
Today was the first time I ever made use of a community food pantry. It was an experience that really makes you stop and think. Okay, so I’ve been through the routine of applying for unemployment insurance before. But not a food pantry…until now.
It took quite a long time to go through it all, from the first intake “interview” with the pantry volunteer, to actually being able to do the “shopping trip” in the food area. It could have been due to the holiday season—I’m told this is the busiest time of year for them. But it did take an entire morning. Knowing that we were going to get some much-needed help, food-wise, at the end of the process, made the wait worthwhile.
I can’t be thankful enough for this resource—especially since our family is trying so hard to pull ourselves up out of our situation, but are finding it extremely challenging to stay afloat and not sink further. If it weren’t for the food pantry, we would have to spend that amount of money at the supermarket, resulting in less left over to pay bills or buy gas to go out job-hunting. It can be a vicious cycle.
But the food pantry, through its services, gives us a small break in our constant worries over survival.
Looking around at how many other people are also being helped by this particular food pantry (the Loaves & Fishes program in Devens, MA) makes you realize that the country is in pretty sad shape, for this large number of folks to need this kind of assistance. And the number of food pantry users keeps growing, I hear.
In school, we read about soup kitchens and other programs of the Great Depression in the 1930s—but how many of us stop to think, “Hey, history is repeating itself. This is really serious!”
But, to sum it all up, I have to say, that my first-time food pantry experience wasn’t so bad after all. If you ever have concerns that it would be an embarrassing or shameful thing—don’t worry. All the volunteers there were very, very nice. And they really tried to make sure that for all the users of the pantry, no one would feel any loss of dignity or self-respect as the result of their visit there. In fact, just the opposite. The fact that all of us were there out of the same, common need made me feel less “odd” or “strange.”
We’re all in this boat together—and if we can all help each other find resources like this, maybe it’s the first step in getting this nation back on its feet. So tell that to your elected representative!