Stories from the Hungry
A Gift of Hope
Meadowlake is a very poor and underserved community near Los Lunas. It was one of Roadrunner’s initial Mobile Food Pantry stops where we met David.
David worked as a fire fighter, but became injured on the job. When he broke his back, it left him on disability, and reliant solely a monthly disability check. When we met David, he told us how grateful he was to receive food from our Mobile Food Pantry. David said with tears in his eyes, “God bless you for this food. It arrived just in time for me to have at least one meal today.”
His food situation was grim. David said he was out of food by the 15th of the month with no additional resources to purchase groceries. What he said shocked us. He had nothing in his cabinets to eat. Not one canned food item, not one leftover from previous meals. Instead he said, “I sometimes have to resort to eating dog food.”
David is one example of the thousands of grandparents, moms, dads, children, families and siblings who have benefitted from our Mobile Food Pantry.
Food is the Fuel for Success
Michael is in elementary school and is a student who has struggled in school. He has struggled to perform well, struggled to fit in, struggled to be a part of his elementary school classroom activities. Why? His teacher discovered that his mom worked nights leaving him usually without dinner or breakfast, and since Michael usually came late to school he didn’t have time to eat his free breakfast provided at the school. He complained all morning about his hunger. Michael’s teacher said it was all that he could focus on, and it affected his ability to perform, interact, learn and play at school.
But as one of the children who receives the backpack, all that was about to change. Michael’s teacher began allowing him to eat right when he entered the classroom. They let him keep his backpack in the room and made sure he ate first thing…before doing anything else.
That one act, that one change of eating every morning has allowed Michael to transform. The simple gift of food has enabled him to do all the things we expect our children to do at school, and for the first time, we’ve been told he is on the way to having good grades. Food was all that he needed to succeed.
Rita, a Senior in Need
Rita lives in a low-income senior housing site in the northeast heights of Albuquerque. She worked her entire life and had all that life could offer and saved, but a divorce in her later adult years left her without many of the funds she now needs. Much of what she did save for her retirement years is now gone. She receives Social Security, but her current monthly income isn’t enough to get through every month. When we asked about her food situation, she said, “There are days I do without or eat only one meal. That is difficult especially since I have regular medications to take and I don’t feel well taking them on an empty stomach.”
Thanks to the Senior Helpings food box she receives Rita is now able to have a reliable source of food.
Looking for Work
Michael and Jennifer Smith live in Rio Rancho and have been looking for work. Michael taught one year at an area high school and was laid off last year due to budget cuts. He is still seeking employment, even if it isn’t in his chosen teaching profession. Michael said, “We can keep a roof over our head, pay some of our bills, and manage to pay for some of my insulin medication, but there isn’t always enough for food. What is left of our monthly income is about $60 for groceries for the entire month for a family of seven.”
Jennifer is also looking for a job, but she is busy raising her five children whose ages are from elementary school to college. She said, “It is difficult to find employment right now. The economy has made it tough to locate even a part-time job.”
Even though the family has access to some unemployment and is on SNAP (food stamp) benefits it isn’t enough for all their food needs. The family receives a Roadrunner Emergency Family Food Box through Rio Rancho Elementary to help supplement their food. Michael said, “We are so grateful to receive food from Roadrunner Food Bank. If I could personally thank everyone who donated the food items in the box, I would.”
Partner Agencies Touching Lives
Bethel Community Storehouse is one agency that receives food from Roadrunner Food Bank.
Linda Smith runs the agency and serves at its executive director. She has been doing this work for more than 22 years. And while Linda is reaching out into the Moriarty community to help vulnerable people who are hungry, you would be surprised by her own story.
Linda found herself needing help with food prior to coming to the agency. She said, “My husband was in a car accident and broke his neck. We found ourselves with two children and no income. I had to swallow my pride and get up the nerve to go ask for help. They embraced me and they supported our situation. We got out of it.”
She is moved to tears when she relays stories of people who have come to her food pantry that need help. One young 20 year old woman arrived and began filling out a client card, but she was shaking so badly she couldn’t keep a steady hand to fill it out. When Linda asked if she could help her, the young woman said, “Sorry, but I’m hungry I haven’t eaten.” Linda asked how long it had been since he had eaten and the young woman said, “Four days.”
It took everything the woman had to sit in the chair and Linda and her agency quickly acted and brought her some food to eat immediately. Linda said, “Forget the paperwork, we’ll do that later.”
Linda and the young 20 year old woman she helped is one of tens of thousands of stories in our state where people don’t have enough food to eat.