Author Archives: Alissa Barnes
A few weeks ago I opened my Facebook page to find a tag from one of my best friends. She had tagged me in a video she posted, and naturally curious, I watched the video. To my horror, she had “called me out” to participate in an ice bucket challenge. What does this mean you ask? It meant that I could either: dump a large amount of ice water on my head, record it, and post it OR I had to donate $100 to my friend’s charity of choice.
As you are all aware, Roadrunner Food Bank has developed a new strategic direction: FEED, SEED, and LEAD. A key part of the new direction is to feed more households effectively and with a greater impact on overall food insecurity. We have looked at our programs and evaluated whether they fit with our strategy and, if not, what we could do to align them. We spent countless hours evaluating our Food for Kids (FFK) program and decided that after 15 years, it was time to evolve. After hearing multiple reports from our FFK coordinators about entire families sharing the backpack and examining best practices of sister food banks across the nation, we have decided that the best way to feed a hungry child is to feed a hungry family. Thus, the FFK program has evolved into our Childhood Hunger Initiative (CHI).
Roadrunner Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry program will be celebrating its sixth birthday this June 17th and I had the extreme pleasure of working with the program from its start. Over the years, as the program has matured, we have experienced many changes. I recall showing up for our first, trial distribution, held at a trailer park sponsored by one of our current partners. I got down from the truck (who knew I would be riding frequently in 53 foot tractor trailers!) and she asked me how the program ran. I believe my response was, “Got any ideas?” Now, almost six years later we went from a single distribution to 100 plus monthly mobile food pantries across our 16 county service area.
Once every year I request client stories from our Mobile Food Pantry sites. These are the stories you all hear, read, and talk about when discussing what food insecurity looks like for our clients across the state. When I read them, I see the common trend of job loss, homelessness, grandparents raising grandchildren, and choosing between rent and food. However, this last time, I realized there is a hidden tale within the client stories, and one we do not talk about as often. It’s the story of our site volunteers. They take the time and energy to coordinate the distribution, find additional volunteer help, secure a distribution site and on and on to ensure that client’s right in their own backyard have access to food. Many of them have full-time jobs or other commitments, but they always find the time to lend a hand. And each client story sent to me is not just the story of the individual being helped, but written by a volunteer telling a story. It is written from their own perspective and conveyed with their own emotions about helping the hungry. You read and witness through their own words the commitment and the impact these volunteers have in our community.