The Single Serving

Mama, Do What You Can

by Montgomery Area Food Bank on 04/24/14

(BTW Magnet High School, Creative Writing Magnet)

By: Melissa S.                                                                                                                  

Cerelia, last of the five C’s of her family’s little bunch

Caden, Cybil, Chris, Carter

And Cerelia, the littlest C

 

The homely little bunch sat gathered on their floors

Popping shells of purple hull peas

And washing pears which Ms. Washington gave them last Wednesday

Their mother in the squashed kitchen

Divvying the last of the saltines and government cheese among her children

Her sallow face strained from both the thought of her aching stomach

And strained from the thought of her children’s

 

The littlest C, Cerelia, whined an called for her evening suckle

But her mother’s breasts had little left to offer

Shriveled and dry as a sun-beaten fruit tree

At loss of vitality and life which once spurred through her veins

Which once held strong her children in her arms

As the boughs of a fig tree holds strong for its woodland residents

Which once was the provider of health and home

Provider of shelter and supple care

And now cannot provide the most miniscule of provisions

For her malnourished infant

 

The little phantoms drift to and fro beneath her tattered hem

Their baby bones clattering in a game of tag

Nothing more than the presence of straining life

Breathing on asbestos in a crumbling tenement

Drinking muddy water passed through busted pipes

That tastes of tin and stale rat dung

But when that’s all you got for your kids,

You boil it and hope they can suck it down

You hope that the brown doesn’t stain their eyes and their baby bones

You hope that you can find the means to feed

 Five little mouths and maybe, just maybe,

There will be a little left over for you

 

Hunger is their flat-mate, their burden

Hanging to the broken family like fleas or AIDS

Constantly ticking off every bit of life in their decrepit skins

Malnutrition is their nationality

Because when people look, that’s all they see

Not that one wants to be a dog trainer or a princess

But instead, as scrawny little hoodrats

There’s five of them, so their mother probably works the streets

A filthy tramp doing what can to manipulate the system

Mooching off society, they say

Or maybe throwing away their income on dope

Smoking away the vitality of her family

 

They’re all going to grow up crooked as the letter Z

Because their mother starves herself to give her kids a better life

Because she does all she can and asks for help

Because she can’t afford Olive Garden and Starbucks

She must be a bad person

 

Melissa was part of the BTW Creative Writing Magnet group that toured the Montgomery Area Food Bank for a food project, the project required that the students write about their experiences and we are thrilled to feature them as ‘guest bloggers’ for MAFB.

 

The food bank was the last stop for the students; it gave them an opportunity to learn about all sides of the food industry, from farm-to-table initiatives, local restaurants and to organizations like ours, that distribute food and other necessities for those in need throughout the state. The students got a sneak peek at our new warehouse and volunteer service center, and we helped de-bunk some myths about who we serve, how we help, and what hunger in the community looks like.

 

If you would like your students to come see our facility, learn more about hunger in Alabama, and how to help ‘Feed Hope’, visit our ‘Contact Us’ page and schedule a tour! Or, you can host a food/fund drive on behalf of MAFB- for more information visit our ‘How to Help’ page.

 

A big thank you to Foster Dickson, and the students for their participation and talents! 

Part 1: Living Beyond the Food Bank

by Montgomery Area Food Bank on 04/15/14

(BTW Magnet High School, Creative Writing Magnet)

By: Jasmine B.                                                                                                              

Often times, people lose sight of how lucky they are. They’re so focused on how “stupid” their four hundred dollar cell phone is, or how “ugly” the new paint on the wall is, or how “old” and “outdated” their computer is, that they forget that there people out there who don’t have those types of luxuries. The most surprising thing about the entire situation, I think, is realizing that the people closest to you  are struggling quietly; that that same person who always comes to schools with a pair of brand new shoes on is the same person who wakes up to emptiness. No television, no bed, no dressers, no washing machine or drier. Nothing. I know a few of them myself, though I won’t name any names.

 Still, I won’t deny that I have done the exact same thing. So, for me, the field trip to the food bank was an eye-opener. It made me realize that even though I don’t have a lot, I have enough, and should be thankful. When we went to eat (restaurant name omitted), all I could think about was how good the food was and how full I was going to be, never about how much a family in my neighborhood would love to have just a taste of what I had that day, aside from just the food. I had a group of friends around me to share the experience and to make me laugh so in that moment I forgot everything that was going on outside of the restaurant. That type of insight is probably one of the most important things I’ve learned this year. Food is important in everyone’s life, in more reasons than one.

 Jasmine was part of the BTW Creative Writing Magnet group that toured the Montgomery Area Food Bank for a food project. The project required that the students write about their experiences and we are thrilled to feature them as ‘guest bloggers’ for MAFB.

 The food bank was the last stop for the students; it gave them an opportunity to learn about all sides of the food industry, from farm-to-table initiatives, local restaurants and organizations like ours, that distribute food and other necessities for those in need throughout the state. The students got a sneak peek at our new warehouse and volunteer service center, and we helped de-bunk some myths about who we serve, how we help, and what hunger in the community looks like.

If you would like your students to come see our facility, learn more about hunger in Alabama, and how to help ‘Feed Hope’- visit our ‘Contact Us’ page and schedule a tour! Or, you can host a food/fund drive on behalf of MAFB- for more information visit our ‘How to Help’ page.

 A big thank you to Foster Dickson, and the students for their participation and talents! 

How Do We Protect Our Children From Adversity?

by Montgomery Area Food Bank on 03/06/14

We try to protect our children from everything- bumps on the head, growing up too fast and the harsh realities of life. But, how do we protect them from adversity?

A recent article by Alter Net’s Tana Ganeva showed that children in the Southern states have a 1 in 4 chance of growing up in poverty. Almost half of these children grow up in extreme poverty, meaning their families earn less than $11,476/year for a household of four. Lynn Parramore (AlterNet) states that ‘kids born in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and the West Coast have a better chance of getting ahead than kids born in other parts of the country’.  

It seems as though our children, the next generation, is entering a cycle of adversity that will be hard to climb out of. Not only do they have to face the economic recession, waning Social Security and retirement budgets, but they may not be able to provide for their own families because they were born in the face of misfortune? If a child doesn’t eat balanced, nutritious meals or at all, the chances of falling back academically becomes greater as their concentration and development can be stinted. If they don’t perform well in school, the chance of them graduating high school and going on to college diminishes; if they don’t graduate, the likelihood of them going to college and getting a better job that allows them to provide for their own families become less and less. This is what is called ‘The Cycle of Poverty’ – it ultimately means that those who grow up hungry will face the same hardships with their own children.

As adults and parents, it can be a tough pill to swallow that our children are going hungry. Nationally, over 16 million children live in ‘food-insecure’ households and that sets the bar high for organizations like ours to find a solution to end hunger. More often than not, the focus on children without food is in faraway places that don’t mimic our own culture and society. However in a study last year, America placed next to last in a ranking of child well-being, barely beating out Romania.

The truth is hunger is in our own backyards, our schools, and our communities. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey states “It is an uncomfortable truth that children in our state, our counties and even our own neighborhoods are hungry and they may not know where their next meal will come from….I cannot sit back and know children in our state are going hungry. It is time to take action.” With Alabama ranked as the 6th poorest state in the nation, with a child poverty rate of 27.5%, there has never been a truer statement- the time to take action is now.

Since 1986, the Montgomery Area Food Bank (MAFB) has fought hunger and poverty by distributing food and other necessities to over 800 Partner Agencies in 35 of Alabama's 67 counties, including some of the most chronically impoverished counties in the nation. Our current reach is more than 330,000 individuals every year, providing more than 20 million pounds of basic commodities, produce, and other necessities. Those we reach include children, seniors, the unemployed, low-pay working families and more seeking assistance throughout the state.

 

So where do you fit in? It’s as simple as volunteering your time, telling your friends about MAFB, or even giving something as small as $1; with one dollar we can provide up to 6 meals for a child in need. Our mission, to ‘Feed Hope Across Alabama’ is impossible without your support and together, we can help solve hunger.

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