This blog post was submitted by the food bank’s Hunger Lifeline Coordinator, Chelsea Foster.
Mr. B lives in a small apartment on Georgia Avenue. He lives with his wife, daughter and newborn granddaughter. The presence of a new baby has put an additional strain on the family’s resources to the point where they no longer have any food in the house for the adults. Health problems limit the family’s ability to seek food assistance and because the family is deaf, communication is also a struggle.
Mr. B called me on the Hunger Lifeline desperate because they had not eaten for several days and could not hold on any longer until their income check came. We communicated using Telecommunications Relay Service, in which an interpreter relayed Mr. B’s sign language to me and signed my words back to him. It took several rounds of phone tag for all of us to be present, but we finally were able to communicate.
As the Hunger Lifeline Coordinator, I connect individuals, like Mr. B, with a partner organization that will give them food assistance. In nearly all cases this arrangement works very well, however, there are times when we have to make other arrangements. Mr. B didn’t have transportation and physically couldn’t travel very far on foot. No one wanted the family to go to bed hungry again, so we decided to personally deliver groceries.
In 2010, The Hunger Lifeline helped over 2,500 families find food. Many of the callers have reached their wits’ end and have no idea how to provide food for themselves or their families. After getting basic information from callers, I recommend a partner organization that is willing to provide food. Other food bank programs such as the Senior Brown Bag Program, SNAP outreach and Mobile Pantries are also recommended as food resources.
Mr. B’s story thankfully has a happy ending. Along with a colleague, I took two boxes filled with food items to the family’s home. I rarely get to see callers face to face, and it’s always nice to make personal connections with the people I talk to. It was a pleasure to meet Mr. B and he was nice enough to forgive my bumbling attempts at using American Sign Language. I want Mr. B to call me again, but this time I hope it’s because he wants to brag that his granddaughter reached another growing milestone.
Know someone struggling to get enough food? Call the Hunger Lifeline at 202.639.9770. The Hunger Lifeline is open Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.