This letter recently landed on my desk and I couldn’t help but share. Visualizing this scenario just makes me giggle! Thank you Jerry and Jeanie Koch for sharing your story and for the $100 donation!
The enclosed is sort of the result of a challenge I issued in my freshman sociology class. There are several members of the Goin’ Band in the class and I’m a big fan.
At the games, the band sits in the South end-zone and the tuba players are in the top row. That is close to where the football winds up after extra-point kicks.
So I thought it would be funny if one of the tuba players actually caught the kicked football IN THEIR TUBA.
So I issued the challenge. I told the band members in my class to tell the tuba players that I would give $100 to the Food Bank if they ever did this. And last Saturday at the Oklahoma State game, one of them did.
So here’s $100. I’m paying up.
All the best,
Jerry and Jeanie Koch
We love the Goin' Band. They made a huge presence at this year's Wreck Hunger Food Drive and we were so impressed with their enthusiasm to raise donations by playing music live for passer-bys... Now that we know the tuba players can catch footballs in thier horns we're even more impressed.
My name is Lynn Weir and I am the Food Resource Coordinator for the South Plains Food Bank. Several months ago I was given the task to plan, organize, and to be in charge of our 30 Hour Food Drive for 2013. I said “Okay” and had the deer in the headlights look I am quite sure!
I set two goals for myself. One: to get the Texas Tech community involved. And two: to get some food donated.
How do we get Tech involved? “Instead of Wreck 'Em Tech, let's name it Wreck Hunger.” I wanted to attract the Tech community, so who better to do it than Tech students? What do Tech students like to do best after studying? Party. I said, “Let's have a tailgate party!”
We planned the first “Wreck Hunger” with a 30 hour tailgate party and a planning committee comprised 95% of Tech students. Tailgating could start on Thursday night before the TCU game which Tech would wreck, and then continue Friday and Saturday. Has to work, right?!
I was at the game Thursday night, when it was extremely close, sat down and honestly prayed, "God I know this isn't the type of thing you are supposed to pray for, but PLEASE let Tech pull this out. Of course I want Tech to win, but I need the community and Tech to be in a very good mood these next two days, feeling very generous. How else am I going to be able to get food for the hungry?"
My prayers were answered! Tech wrecked TCU! And with help from our friends, the South Plains Food Bank wrecked hunger!
We accomplished so incredibly much more than just Wrecking Hunger. When I use the term "we", I am not only talking about the people at the Food Bank, but the Texas Tech community, businesses in Lubbock, the Lubbock community, and numerous volunteers.
I chose a goal of 3,500 pounds of food for us to collect, thinking this is a probably on the high side for just 30 hours of a food drive, but you have to be optimistic. My goal was totally exceeded! We collected 27,361 pounds of food and had $1,640.14 donated, which equates to 29,362 meals on the South Plains!
One lady stopped me and asked me if I were with the Food Bank and I said yes. She said this was one of the best events she had ever been to. “It was a very family friendly environment for a tailgate party, which her young children could attend, but above all else, it was for a very good cause.”
A homeless man came to the event with his wife and backpack. We were giving away hot dogs and hamburgers Saturday at lunch. He and his wife each ate a couple of hamburgers and hot dogs and took some with them. They went to our beverage cart where we had drinks and sweets, and topped their back packs off with drinks and desserts. When Coach Kliff Kingsbury made an appearance on Saturday, the gentlemen went up to shake Coach Kingsbury's hand. I stood and watched Coach Kingsbury look the man in the eye, as if he were the only fan around, and shake his hand. The man's life was made. He went over to my husband and was like a little child at Christmas! He got to meet and shake the hand of Kliff Kingsbury! The same man came to the food bank today, for the first time, and was still holding his autograph of Kliff Kingsbury.
During his appearance, Coach Kingsbury's assistant asked me to try to keep things orderly, and would tell me we only have about 10 more minutes, 4 more minutes, etc, as Coach had a staff meeting at 2:00. I would say “ok guys, only 4 more minutes, one more person,” etc. When we said “that's all,” Coach Kingsbury stopped and continued to sign more autographs and take pictures. Does Tech have the best football coach or what?
Raider Red and the Masked Rider with Fearless Champion were also there on Saturday and parents got photos with their children and these remarkable icons. Trust me. Not only small children were having their pictures made!
The Lady Raider Basketball team made an appearance on Friday and brought close to 3,000 pounds of food they collected!
The men's baseball team came out, helped us load one of our trucks with food and made a little boys day. A little boy around 5 or 6 who is passionate about baseball approached the team to meet them. He got some pointers from the team and then found out that he had a better swing than some of the Red Raiders! This is the honest truth!
Tubby Smith came out Friday, on his way home to just stop by and check us out! Did he have to do this? Of course not!
Jon Murray, the Cross Country Coach came by on Saturday.
The Saddle Tramps came out, held a pep rally for us, and every time someone donated food, rang their bells and Bangin' Bertha!
Members of the Goin' Band pretty much played non-stop Saturday. On a purely selfish side, I was very honored, when I walked out of the store from getting a drink, and the band began playing Happy Birthday to me! Now how many people can say the Goin' Band has serenaded them!
We had the Reagor-Dykes Hummer at the event and a little boy came up to me and asked if he could sit in the Hummer. I said of course. He got behind the wheel and was off to the races (in his mind). He got out jumping up and down, squealing that he got to drive a real Hummer!
A sixth grader here in Lubbock helped us do a live TV appearance with Nikki-Dee Ray. Afterwords, she came up to me and said she was the happiest person in the world because she got to meet someone who is on TV!
The very last prize we drew for was a 55 inch TV. The young gentleman who won it, brought us 3 non-perishable food items to earn a ticket. He was saving his money to buy a TV!
We accomplished our goal of raising 3,500 pounds of food, but not without the help of supporters and volunteers. On Friday Mrs. Baird’s Bread announced their donation of 18,000 pounds of bread! There was great camaraderie between food bank employees and volunteers. I was hoping for a respectful showing and got so much more!
Lubbock, Texas and the South Plains is the best place on earth to live and hands down Texas Tech is the best University anywhere! Thank you everyone who came out, volunteered, and made appearances. We will see you next year for the same event. If you want to help us out just phone the South Plains Food Bank, and I will get you signed up! A huge difference was made in lives in Lubbock this weekend! You WRECKED HUNGER! This will only get bigger and better from here on out!
My recent Facebook post reads “Facebook Friends... Tell me what your daily indulgence is. Something that you spend money on and you know you can live without... But it is just so good...”
Answers ranged from coconut water to wine and chocolate. My own daily indulgence is a Flat White from Gatsby's Coffee House in Lubbock, Texas.
Every morning on my way to work I stop at my favorite spot “Gatsby’s” and have a Flat White. Flat White is barista talk for “latte with a shot of espresso served in a small cup”. I love the espresso. I love the perfectly frothed milk. I love the atmosphere at Cactus Alley. And I love that the barista pours a heart into the surface of my Flat White. >gush<
But this isn’t a story about my coffee shop crush.
This is a story about the cost of my fancy coffee and what could otherwise have been purchased.
My Flat White costs $3.50. I round up to $5 to include a tip for the lovely art work. My five dollars a day, five times a week adds up to about $100 per month.
Here at the South Plains Food Bank we equate $1 to 4 meals. Therefore my monthly coffee indulgence could have purchased 400 meals this month! That is four hungry west Texans fed 3 meals per day for one month.
Can I really give up my Flat Whites? Yes. But stop drinking coffee? No. What I am willing to do is let go of the fancy espresso and instead opt for the basic pour at my office which doesn’t cost me anything.
Instead I will take my $100 and find a more generous use. I invite you to do the same.
A little after 1:00 in the afternoon, Monday-Saturday, my wife asks the dogs if they want to go check the mail… which means walking from the front door to the mail box by the street. For the dogs it’s a quick patrol of the front yard. Once the mail is collected and the dogs determine our front yard is safe, they go back inside.
“Checking the mail” is a daily ritual for most of us anywhere in the country. Even in an electronic world we make a trek to the mail box to see if there is anything special in the mail box. Usually it is bills and flyers… but sometimes it’s something special like an invitation to a wedding or thank you note or a note from a family member or friend. When I was growing up, on occasion, I would even find a “special delivery” letter!
Another ritual most of us have is checking our pantry or looking in the refrigerator to see what’s for breakfast… or lunch… or dinner. Unless we haven’t had time to make it to a grocery store, most of us find what we are looking for. But for one in six people on the South Plains going to the pantry isn’t a sure thing. There are times during the month when they are not sure where or how they will get their next meal. They are people who are food insecure.
The “food insecure” are the people we serve at the South Plains Food Bank every day; People whose pantries are empty. Sometimes these people are seniors living on a fixed income. As food and fuel prices rise, they have less money for food. Sometimes they are people who are working, but just don’t make enough to buy all the groceries they need for themselves and their families. Other times they are veterans with disabilities that prevent them from finding a regular job. Or they may be children going to school without breakfast. There are many faces to hunger. And what I have discovered by being at the food bank, these are people I went to school with, people I go to church with, people who are my neighbors.
So what do mailboxes and food pantries have to do with one another? On Saturday, May 11, you have a chance to go to your pantry and then your mailbox to help feed hungry neighbors. It’s the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Simply leave your donation of canned or dried foods by the mailbox and your letter carrier will pick it up for special delivery to the food bank. Stamp Out Hunger is the largest one day food drive in the nation.
The food you donate on Saturday will be the food we give to families during the summer months. Summer is a time of the year when the need remains high, but donations are at a low. Your food donation will help ensure we have the food we need to keep kids, seniors, and others fed. And if you can’t leave food by your mail box please consider making an online gift. Every dollar we receive turns into the equivalent of five meals.
When you think about foods to donate, think about what you enjoy and what you would want to serve your friends and family. Please consider items like canned tuna or chicken packed in water. They can be used to create lots of nutritious dishes. Canned vegetables with reduced sodium or fruits packed in light syrup. Peanut butter is always appreciated as a good source of protien and fiber. Low sugar cereals and whole grain products help round out a healthy meal.
However you choose to donate, it will be a special delivery for the families we serve!
"What does it mean to feed a hungry person?"
The question was asked by a friend of mine who was visiting the South Plains Food Bank. While it seems like an easy question, I think what he was really asking was what difference does it make? It's a good question and made me think.
Sure, feeding a hungry person meets their immediate nutritional needs and their stomach stops hurting. We feed the hungry out of compassion. But in reality, feeding the hungry means different things to different people.
For a hungry school child, it's the difference between passing a test or not passing a test.
For a hungry senior citizen, it's the difference between being able to afford medication or not taking medication.
For a working parent struggling to put food on the table, it the difference between being able to sit down around their dinner table and be a family or not.
Feeding the hungry is more than just a hunger issue. Feeding the hungry is about education, health and creating family. People who are hungry drag us all down. But when we take care of children, seniors and the working poor, we are not only being compassionate, we are building up our community and our country. That's what feeding the hungry means to me.
This year, the South Plains Food Bank will help feed 1 in 6 people in our area. It will have a different impact on every man, woman, and child we help feed, but it will make a difference to them... and it will make our community stronger.
Would you like to find out more about the SPFB and how you can help? Stop by for a visit. -Free Box Lunch and Tour. I would love to show you around.
David Weaver, CEO
Mary Solis, our Operations manager, came into my office the last week in September and said, “I need you to work the dock.”
“Working the dock” means going outside and loading boxes of food into the cars of clients when we are busy. Working the dock keeps me in touch with muscles I’d forgotten. More importantly, it keeps me in touch with the people we see every day.
Working the dock is a humbling experience.
Every car that rolls up is a story. Hunger is part of their story. And when I work the dock, I become a small part of their story too.
On this particular Tuesday, I met Mr. Lemon, a dignified elderly gentleman who walks with a cane. He stands tall. I can tell he doesn’t want to be coming to the food bank. He apologizes for having to get food, but on a fixed income and with rising fuel prices, he doesn’t know what else to do. When his car is loaded he shakes my hand and says thank you.
Watching him drive away, I wondered what kind of difference our food box will make for Mr. Lemon and his wife that night. He had such a quiet dignity. I hope he feels no shame in asking for help.
Cameron with cat eye sunglasses arrives in an old beat up Saturn station wagon packed with clothing and boxes. It is obvious she is living out of her car. She rolls down the window and asks me to put her food box a vacant space she has carved out in the passenger seat behind her. A box of dry goods, a box of frozen goods, a box of produce, and a bag of apples from our apple orchard. It just fits in the space. I close the door. She looks at me, nods and smiles. She’s gone.
Was she going to a friend’s house or a relative’s home? Or will she find herself alone in her car? I can’t help but worry.
Stacy the single mom with two wiggling children in car seats in the back is next. Steam is coming from under the hood of her car. I’m worried her motor is on fire. She laughs and says no, just a radiator hose leak. Her father has promised to fix it that evening. The trunk pops open and she helps us put food in the back. She pulls a couple of bananas out of the produce box and gives one each to her kids. “They didn’t get much for breakfast this morning. Now it looks like we’ll have a feast. God bless you.” The steam from under the hood has stopped. She starts the motor and takes off.
So the line continues. Car after car. Story after story the faces of hunger come into focus leaving an imprint, a memory, an impression. So many different faces. The realization that hunger doesn’t’ discriminate.
It’s all part of working the dock at the South Plains Food Bank.
Someone is always “working the dock” at the South Plains Food Bank. The dock, wherever it is, is where we connect with those we feed.
This year, we connected with one in six people on the South Plains providing hope and nourishment --one in six people who are your neighbors and your friends. That’s what we do, we feed the hungry, we give hope and we enrich lives.
Cricket Court is one of our Kids Cafe sites – a place where children 18 years-old and younger can get a free hot nutritious meal after school. At Cricket Court we provide meals for up to 40 children per day. When school started they were having trouble rounding up enough volunteers to serve the children, so I went over to help out.
I was dressed in my slacks, a short sleeve shirt, and the loafers I always wear when I work the dock. Two little boys were looking me over when I walked in. They were six and seven years old, dressed nicely but in worn sneakers. Schondale, the older kid looked at me and said, “You wore your Sunday Shoes! My mom only let’s me wear my Sunday Shoes for church and special occasions. Why do you have your Sunday Shoes on?”
I started to tell him that this is what I always wear. But then I thought about where I was and what I was doing and who I was feeding. I was working the dock and it was indeed a special occasion.
Anytime we feed our neighbors in need, it is a special gift to them and to our community.
The impact on the lives of those we serve is dramatic and real. You are part of their story now. You’re part of our story: Feeding People, Giving Hope, Enriching Lives. Thank you for wearing your Sunday shoes with me.
This time next fall, the South Plains Food Bank will be celebrating 30 years of compassion and 30 years of action. Thirty years of wearing our Sunday shoes.
But in the meantime, there is work to be done. Hunger won’t wait for the 1 in 6 on the South Plains who seek help at the South Plains Food Bank our one of our more than 200 agencies. Hunger doesn’t discriminate.
Recently I was on the L – one of Chicago’s public modes of transportation – heading to Midway Airport after a Feeding America conference.
I looking like quit the tourist with my phone out capturing snapshots of the city as it roared by out the window. I had luggage in tow and was seated toward the back of the train car in one of the single seats.
At one of the stops, a small frail lady entered and took a seat across the aisle and one row up from me. She watched me click away for a few minutes as the train rushed to the next station.
After a few minutes, I said, “Hi. How are you?” Because that’s what us Southern folks do – we talk to everyone pretty much!
She said, “Fine.”
I thought that would be the end of the conversation, but it wasn’t.
It was actually the beginning of a lesson as I sat on the L and was schooled about life from this little old woman who could have been my grandmother.
She was in her 80’s and was originally from France she told me. She had come here when she was a child and loved it. She begged her Father to allow her stay in the United States with her uncle and his family. Her Father agreed. All of her relatives had since passed away and now she was pretty much alone.
The train stopped and I, being a country girl who has never taken public transportation in my hometown, was surprised to see high school students board the train. Some of them had parents, or at least some sort of adult figure with them, while others were riding with their friends.
My friend was quick to educate me in the ways of the world.
“Green cards,” she huffed!
Where I’m from a green card is referred to as an immigration document, so I was a little confused how we had entered that course of conversation but she went on without prompting.
“They ride for free with a green card. They get groceries for free and even cell phones for free with a green card. Not me. I have to put money on my card to ride,” she said showing me her rail pass indeed was not green.
“I guess you live on your social security or retirement,” I asked her.
She explained she received about $1,300 a month and had Medicare, but she didn’t have Part D. She went on to explain that her medicine alone cost her $300 to $400 dollars a month. She didn’t really tell me where they rest of her money went, but I could tell by the look of her clothes, she was living pretty frugal.
I asked her how she made it each month.
She put both hands in front of her face and with her thumbs and pointer finger pretended to grasp something small and break it.
It took me a minute.
“You break your medicine in half?” I confirmed.
“Yes. I have to if I want to afford everything I need to survive every month,” She said.
“I bet you would qualify for some senior programs and be able to get some assistance with your medication. You might even qualify for Food Stamps, which is now called SNAP,” I explained.
She waved her hand at me as if brushing me away.
“I would never ask for help. I could not do such a thing.”
We rode in silence for three more stops to Midway.
I never told her my story – how I had to ask for help.
Why does it still make me feel ashamed to tell a total stranger that I had received SNAP benefits?
Would my story have made a difference to this proud woman?
What will she do this winter? She has already been forced to spilt her pills in half – not taking the correct dose for her ailments, what else will she be forced to do to survive?
She deserves so much more than to live out her final years just surviving.
Even as I have returned home to mounds of paperwork and deadlines, I haven’t been able to forget her.
I don’t even know her name.
But she schooled me on the L in Chicago and I will never forget her.
I read this news story yesterday: http://gma.yahoo.com/slammed-using-food-stamps-ga-woman-seeks-apology-121005811--abc-news-savings-and-investment.html and I must confess it brought back a painful memory.
For those who don’t know, I am a single mother with a child who has several chronic health problems. For a while after my son was born, due to his health and constant needs, I was unable to work and was receiving help from all the above: Women Infant and Children Program (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and my son received Medicaid. I even sought out food assistance from the South Plains Food Bank, where I now work.
This woman’s story reminds me of a local shopping experience I encountered.
I was in line at an ‘upscale’ grocery store in town and had several ‘high end’ items in my cart due to my son’s special dietary needs caused by his some of his medical conditions.
Some of the items in my cart included: vegan and vegetarian food ite
ms as well as soy milk, soy yogurts, and a probiotic drink.
Now please note I always tried to block everyone’s view of my Lone Star Card, but of course there was a problem with the price of one of the items so there I was – on display, holding my card, waiting for a price check.
As the two women behind me grew more impatient one looked at the other and said, “I wish I could afford soy milk for my family, but we work for a living.” The other lady replied, “I know, uh!”
I was mortified.
Some of you are going to pat yourselves on the back and say, “Well those items are understandable, but what about the chips, sodas, birthday cakes, and candy?”
Been there, too! Yep, I had that cart one time. My son was turning two and I had NO MONEY!
So I did it. I went to the store and used my SNAP benefits to purchase some chips and dip, sodas, some cheese and crackers, some candy for the kids at the party, and yes – a Birthday cake. My family and some church friends were coming over for my son’s ‘party.’ They brought the presents. I had nothing for him.It was March; I had finally scored a part-time job, but paid out all my income in part-time child care, medical bills, and medical supplies over what was provided by Medicaid, and trying to keep a roof over our heads, keep the lights on, and have enough gas in my car to make it to work.
I hate the stigma some people put on those swiping the Lone Star Card.
I ask this of you.
The next time you are in line at the grocery store and you see someone paying with ‘Food Stamps,’ before you start judging what is in their cart, open your mouth with a witty comment, or feel condemnation – stop.
Please just stop yourself. Make eye contact and smile.
You just made them feel human again – no longer like a second class citizen.
That wasn’t too hard, now was it!