Looking for Hope and Health in Hard Times - Capital Area Food Bank
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Looking for Hope and Health in Hard Times

By Christine Paukstis April 1, 2013

In an area of the country with tremendous wealth and abundance many of our brothers and sisters in the Washington metro area are struggling to survive.
Look at what we are up against:

  • Crisis of available affordable housing
  • Lack of adequate physical and mental health care
  • Underemployment
  • Unemployment
  • Not being able to afford nutritious food

Many people have the resolve to remain spirited and hopeful, but others have been so weathered by hard times that they appear to have broken hearts – and I believe they do.
I started doing outreach in Montgomery County, MD about two months ago to help people get connected with SNAP, formerly Food Stamps. The long lines for help with basic food needs are truly an assembly of the most diverse group of people you can find.
Many are working full time and still cannot pay their monthly bills. Some are unemployed. Most have children. Many are seniors or people living with disabilities. I have also met a few who have spouses serving in the US military.
About half of the people I talk with already receive the monthly SNAP benefit, but it is so small that it doesn’t come close to being enough for one week’s worth of groceries. I couldn’t live on $16 a month for food!
People travel by bus, or metro; walk long distances; take cabs in groups, or get rides from neighbors to travel to the long lines at mobile food pantries. They are humble and thankful for the help, and a few even turn down the SNAP application saying that they believe things will get better for them soon. I certainly hope so.
If we as a country could wrap our heads around the fact that we cannot survive alone, maybe we could begin to end this heartbreak that comes from poverty. We are indeed radically dependent on one another for the beautiful, healthy life that is each of ours to claim.