by Gabby Statia, 2019 Hunger Lifeline Intern
The Capital Area Food Bank is basically in my backyard. But before I interned for them, I didn’t know what hunger truly looked like in the DC area—or the full depth and breadth of services the food bank provides for its surrounding communities. I was one of those people who considered hunger a distant reality that I had never encountered. I grew up sheltered from those realities, and my mother protected me from ever experiencing them.
However, throughout my time at the CAFB as the Hunger Lifeline Intern, many of my preconceived notions were challenged.
In my first week at the food bank, I shadowed different departments to understand the processes that go into running programs smoothly. I was most impacted by my ride-along with a truck driver. We distributed food to a partner site, and later picked up food donations from a Safeway warehouse. When we arrived at the partner site, I was surprised to see the long line wrapped around the outside of the church with people waiting to receive their food. While Andre, the driver, unloaded the food, I was able to speak with the church’s organizers about their food pantry and their work in the community.
I didn’t know what a pantry looked like before this moment or with what kinds of organizations the food bank partners, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were people within these communities facing hunger that are working hard to provide these services for their neighbors. This initial exposure shaped how I approached my position, making me even more interested and motivated in my work.
I primarily worked on improving the Hunger Lifeline service, which included speaking to clients and partners in order to make the service more user-friendly and to ensure accurate information was displayed on the food bank website. Throughout my 10 weeks, I spoke to several people in the area who are food insecure. This exposure opened my eyes to the several faces of hunger in our region, and how different hunger looks for everyone. It made me realize how close any person is to facing hunger, and how dire the problem of food insecurity is in the DC area.
In all, working at the CAFB made me optimistic about the work of nonprofit organizations and further inspired me to work in public health and other causes for social justice. Throughout my course work as a Global and Public Health major, I have learned that several moving parts must come together in order to make a nonprofit initiative successful and sustainable. The CAFB is making informed decisions to improve their services and tailor them to the needs of their clients. This experience also reminded me that despite there being much injustice in the world, there are people out there who do not get discouraged and continue working toward a better future.