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Help In A Hard Place

My father recently passed away, and for people who wanted to make a charitable donation in his name, we suggested “your local food pantry” as a one of the possibilities. He wrote his own obituary several years ago, and included a paragraph that began:


“I have never forgotten where I came from, and it was a hard place. I hope that I have helped others as I was helped.” One of the ways he helped was volunteering at a foodbank in our hometown, and he did that because the hard place he came from often involved going to bed hungry, sleeping in a cold house, and not having enough of much of anything.  Since his childhood occurred in the 1940s and early 1950s, the help his family received was often accompanied by public scolding and shame and harshly incorrect assumptions (a teacher who was startled he was a good student because they knew he was poor, for example).


When you start talking to people about foodbanks and food insecurity, you tend to hear what can be broadly categorized as myths and misconceptions. A lot of those are just lack of information, but some have a nastier side, and when I think about them, I feel as though I can hear a particular tone of voice, the tone I imagine my father heard when he was a child.


A member of the Community Food Pantry of Spring Green with much love and warm hugs.  xoxo xoxo xoxo :-) board says these are a couple of the questions & comments she’s heard: People use the pantry when they don't need help. Why don't they have to prove income to receive food?


When you talk to people who volunteer at the pantry, or talk to people who receive food, you come away with a profound sense of how deep the need is.


But one of the main answers as to why we don’t use “means testing,” (insisting people prove need before receiving food), is that it takes more volunteers, more staff, and more money to figure out and then design and explain what forms need to be filled out, what evidence is required, to process and evaluate the information, to communicate the findings, to screen recipients for the proper authorization on food distribution days, and so on.


The Community Food Pantry of Spring Green already has a serious need for more volunteers and more funding. Adding in means testing would stretch resources when the alternative is simple—don’t ask people to prove their need.


Besides, many people are living paycheck to paycheck, and unexpected expenses can mean that even someone who can usually pay all their bills may come to a month when they have to choose between paying rent or medical expenses or buying enough food. For a person like that, tax returns and bank statements might not show what truly is a legitimate need.


What the Community Food Pantry of Spring Green does instead is trust that the people who show up to receive food have a genuine need.  That they, like my father, are coming from a hard place.



In an effort to educate and involve everyone in our distribution area over the coming months and years, a small group of writers will be publishing articles on the pantry’s new website (created by yet another volunteer) and in the Hometown News each month. We are hopeful that many will read these articles, share what they learn, and assist in keeping this resource going for years to come by volunteering, spreading the word, making donations, organizing fundraisers and getting involved in helping to “nourish our community”.


Why not take a few minutes to look around the website and then come back often to keep up with what is going on and what is needed: 






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