Hunger has an impact on us all, whether we are personally experiencing hunger or not. Hunger could be affecting your co-worker, your neighbor, your child’s best friend – anyone in our community could potentially be suffering from hunger in silence. Working families with children make up a large number of the clients we serve who need help with food. Without a doubt, hunger hits children the hardest.
Recently while filming videos for Roadrunner Food Bank’s YouTube channel (in production – to be released later this year), we had the opportunity to speak with numerous hungry families at two of our Mobile Food Pantries.
We heard many stories of struggling to make ends meet – families with incomes that cannot be stretched to last through the entire month. Several young families all told similar stories. The father was working full time with a steady income; the mothers could not afford daycare and stayed home with the kids; and despite their best efforts, there simply wasn’t enough money to provide adequate food for everyone.
Meet Vianey Perez and her son, Alexander. Vianey is a long-time volunteer with the Pajarito Mesa Mobile Food Pantry and an occasional client. Her husband is employed, and though he earns a decent wage, it is not nearly enough to fully support a growing family. Now that Alexander is getting bigger, his appetite out paces Vianey’s monthly WIC (Women, Infants and Children) benefits.
“We always make sure he gets fed first,” Vianey explained. “Children need good food to grow, and they don’t understand being told no when it comes to food. If he is hungry, if he wants second helpings, I can’t make him understand the reason he can’t eat more. That’s why we need the Food Bank sometimes.”
(Vianey told me that she volunteers because many families in her community are in far more dire straits than she is, and she and her neighbors need to stick together and help each other out as much as possible.)
We heard from a young boy, Jorge Romero, about his father and how hard he works to support their family. His dad works long hours, laboring in the sun. “My dad really needs to be eating more so that he has enough energy to work,” Jorge said. Their family comes for food to ensure that everyone always has a full meal. Without the Food Bank, Jorge’s parents might be forced to ration their own food, so that the children get enough to eat.
(Jorge is proud of how hard his father works, but worries about him getting enough food to stay healthy.)
Lastly, I would like to introduce Cynthia Salas and her three-year-old daughter, Estrella. Again, Cynthia is married, and her husband works long hours to provide for their family, but they still run out of food. “We live in a trailer on my grandmother’s land, and my whole extended family works together to be sure the kids are taken care of and have what they need,” Cynthia told me. “We share food and help each other.”
(“The food we get from the Pajarito Mesa site helps my whole family when we run low on food.” – Cynthia)
The hard-working parents who I met worry about their kids. They live paycheck to paycheck, not always knowing how they will feed their children. The food Roadrunner distributes gives them security and peace of mind. I am proud to play a small role in helping these families, and I hope you will join us by giving or volunteering to solve hunger in New Mexico.
Shannon Kunkel is Communications Coordinator for Roadrunner Food Bank.