The Single Serving

A Dirty Solution?

by Montgomery Area Food Bank on 03/16/15

Our last issue of this newsletter talked about the importance of families. We spoke about how MAFB recognizes the relationship between the family unit and the family meal, with food as the connection. Whether your family is large or small, food serves as the focal point – during daily meals as well as special occasions. We unquestionably use food to celebrate, but along with the need to breathe, the need to eat is a top necessity…. You can’t opt out of the need for food.
As America has changed, our relationship with food has changed. In today’s world we make a list, go to the store, and get what we need. We have forgotten that there are other ways to put food on the table and that we have the capability of participating in that process. An ideal system would connect people with food, and would do it in a way that re-awakens our resolve for independence. The ultimate solution to hunger would do more than just dole out food. It would reconnect us and remind us that we can play a role in feeding ourselves, and that food does not HAVE to originate in a grocery store. A look back at our history will show that we have faced this challenge before – and that we answered that challenge with amazing success.
In 1941, America was grappling with one of the most difficult eras in our history. We were at war, and as American citizens, we wanted to be an asset to our nation, rather than a liability. We did not ask to be rescued – but rather understood that we had to be our own heroes. We understood that if we wanted America to survive the hard times, we could not allow a spirit of dependency to take over. We also recognized that hard work and sacrifice was not a bad thing or something to avoid, but was a good thing that strengthened and united us.
In March 1917, Charles Lathrop Pack organized the US National War Garden Commission and launched the war garden campaign. Set in motion during the WWI era and known as “Liberty Gardens”, as “Victory Gardens” during WWII, and “Relief Gardens” during the Great Depression – these gardens sprang up everywhere. People plowed front yards, lawns, back yards, flower gardens and vacant lots to grow their own vegetables. Even public land was put to use, from the lawn at San Francisco City Hall to the Boston Commons to portions of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. San Francisco's Victory Program became one of the best in the country. There were over 800 gardens in Golden Gate Park. Every park in the city had gardens and many vacant lots were used for growing vegetables.
By 1943, Victory Gardens were producing 8 million tons of food. These gardens relieved the pressure on public food supply brought on by the war. They were a “morale booster” - in that gardeners felt empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown, and produced up to 41 percent of all the vegetables consumed in the nation. Think about that for a minute. 41%. WOW!
MAFB is constantly searching for ways to relieve hunger. Ideally, we will see our clients realize that they have the power to change their own lives. Our desire is for them to recover the faith in themselves, and to put that faith into action—through the hard work and creativity that results in liberty from the limitations they may not even realize were there. There is great possibility within the “Victory Garden” concept that can provide one pathway to that goal. Will it solve all of the problems that poverty creates? Obviously not. But, it can certainly be one of the pieces of the puzzle we work on every day toward that end.


Gretchen Kindrick
Programs & Publications Coordinator
E.N.D Program Coordinator 

"Meditations in an Emergency"

by Montgomery Area Food Bank on 12/19/14

On Saturday, December 6th, I had the “privilege” of taking an emergency box to a lady who had called requesting assistance.  I say privilege, because when I left her house, I felt I received more than she did. 

This woman was a nurse for 30 years.  Three years ago, she began having medical problems that have continued to the point that she is in a motorized chair and has to have someone come daily to care for her.  She was reluctant to call us, she said, because she doesn’t want to have to ask for help, but has gone through all her savings and had to choose between getting her prescriptions (many of them) filled and buying food.  She literally had nothing left to eat.  She has no family other than some distant relations in Tuscaloosa that she doesn’t want to burden with her problems.

When I called and talked to her as I pulled up to her house, I thought I was talking to a very elderly person, her voice was so soft and frail.  She kept apologizing because it took her some time to get to the door.  I was shocked to learn that she is about my age- which means she does not qualify for programs like Meals on Wheels because she’s not 60 years old.  She is getting progressively worse and is developing early dementia, so she is going to have to go to a nursing home before much longer.

As I got ready to leave, she thanked me over and over and wished me a Merry Christmas.  I sat in my car in tears for quite a while and was not able to get her out of my mind all weekend.  It wasn’t just her situation, which while heart-breaking, is not all that uncommon.  It was her attitude and spirit that humbled and shamed me…despite all she is dealing with she was so positive and pleasant to talk with.  I keep wondering how she remains so strong when faced with such daunting medical and financial issues. 

I hope that I can keep her clearly pictured in my mind as I go about my day’s work for that is who we serve.  How many more like her are out there that we don’t even know about?  We owe it to each and every one of them to give every bit of talent and energy we have to doing our jobs the best we can.  I hope the next time I say I don’t feel like going to work, or I’m tired, or have a little ache or pain, that her face will come to mind.  If she can face the trials she is facing day after day with such a sweet spirit and undaunting strength, then surely I can come to work with the right attitude and do all I can do to make it better for those we serve. 

So many people depend on us to do our very best for them each and every day.  We are doing them a huge disservice if we are just here marking time until the next paycheck or to fulfill our personal agendas.    We choose to be here and to carry out this mission; we need to do it well.

It was a privilege to be able to help this woman in some small way.  It was a privilege because it was a lesson in handling adversity with dignity and goodness rather than bitterness and self-pity.  It was a privilege because I was once again reminded that the work I do isn’t about statistics or paperwork—it’s about real people who are hurting and need our help.  It was a privilege because it reminded me not to get comfortable, but to keep pushing for solutions.  I am grateful that I have been given this chance to make a small difference in a few people’s lives.  If I forget, simply delivering a small box of food goes a long way in reminding me.

                                                                                                                                Cheri

If your non-profit agency would like to sponsor a senior in need or learn more about our Senior Supplement program, contact Cheri O'Dell at (334) 263-3784. Or, you can support the Senior Supplement program by donating here. 

Why I Advocate

by Montgomery Area Food Bank on 09/04/14

By: Adam Powell

Staff Writer 
Tallassee Tribune/Eclectic Observer

When I was young, my family and I were not well-off. I was born with a liver disease which caused me to have a liver transplant at two-years-old and the ensuing medical expenses put quite a weight on our family. My father was working on an assembly line, with a commute of about an hour each day, and getting home around 4:30 every afternoon covered in grease and sweat. My mother was attending nursing school in an effort to make sure that all of my medical needs were addressed and understood, all while raising me and my brother and sister. 

There were many nights that my father would suit up right after dinner to go hunting for deer, not for sport or enjoyment but because we couldn't afford store-bought meat. And, when we could, we’d have fish sticks and mac ‘n’ cheese, or Hamburger Helper or some other nutrition-limited, cost-effective cuisine. My parents worked hard for me and my siblings - we didn't get to go out to dinner a lot, we didn't get fashionable shoes or clothes, but we survived and we were loved. Eventually, my mother became a nurse and my father was promoted and things improved around the old Powell house, but looking back on those days I realize how we could have benefited from a little help. 

Today, thousands of Americans are in the same boat that we were in - hard-working families that just aren't quite able to make ends meet. In some cases, parents are going without food just so they can feed their children, all while keeping up with the bills and rent and day-to-day expenses. 

That’s why I promote, as much as I can, the efforts of the Montgomery Area Food Bank and their partner agencies. I've helped with fund-raisers and grand opening events, but mostly I try to spread their message through social media and daily interactions. And sometimes that’s the most valuable work, the work of sharing the message and vision of these groups who aim to help Americans fill their dietary needs and still be able to fill their financial responsibilities. 

For single moms or parents with low-wage jobs, the Food Bank goes a long way to ensure these people have access to the things they need. While my online advocacy may not seem like much, it has helped people connect with these agencies and get the help they need. Sometimes people are unaware that an agency right down the street can help with their needs. Sometimes people just need to know where to go and how to contact an agency that is set up to help them through tough times. 

I’m a husband and a father now and, thankfully, I have enough to feed my family and pay our bills, but I still appreciate the needs of those around me - the ones I may not even know are struggling. Advocacy is a large part of making sure people have what they need. By sharing a post, liking a page, commenting on a thread or just talking with one another about the extraordinary work that the Food Bank does, you may have the key to solving someone’s need. People aren’t always going to tell you when there’s a problem, they’re not always going to lament and complain, but they will take notice when they see that someone is working hard to make their life better. 

The MAFB offers multiple programs to assist with every need out there, whether it’s the Senior Supplement program, the mobile pantries or any of their other efforts, where there is a need you will find the Food Bank working to fix it. All we have to do is use the one gift we were given at birth - our voice. By speaking up and speaking out, you may well be the savior that someone was looking for. All we have to do is pay attention, share and care and let the Food Bank take care of the rest.  

Adam C. Powell is a staff writer for The Tallassee Tribune and Eclectic Observer. For the month of September he will be dedicating his column to hunger awareness for #HungerAction Month! He is a long-time advocate of the food bank and uses social media to 'Feed Hope Across Alabama'. 

For more writings by Adam, be sure to check his WordPress page at tribunepowell.wordpress.com 
Contact Adam: 
(334) 283-6568 
(334) 567-7811
adam.powell@tallasseetribune.com

MAFB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and an equal opportunity employer and provider. Any donations made through our website are done so through a secure server. We never sell or rent our supporter's names. 
Need directions to our facility?  Click HERE
521 Trade Center St., Montgomery, AL  36108    334-263-3784 - Phone    334-262-6854 - FAX
MAFB River Region Ethics Award
MAFB Member of Feeding America
MAFB Guidestar Exchange
MAFB Home
Montgomery Area Food Bank

"Feeding Hope Across Alabama"
MAFB Donate