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Fall is nearly here. Kids return to school, and each of us starts a new chapter filled with challenges, big and small. It’s an exciting time! However …
Families that are struggling to get by aren’t able to enjoy the changes this new season brings. They are working to put food on the table. A basic comfort which is at risk in far too many households, in our community and beyond.
It’s true, some children will start receiving free meals when they go to school, easing this burden on their family. But they are not the only ones experiencing hunger and hardship right now.
That’s why the focus of this issue of Food Matters is the many faces of hunger in our community. Some stories shine a light on the challenges children face, others highlight food insecurity among adults, and how that can affect them.
Supporting neighbors who are hurting is no small task. But, thanks to kind and generous people like you, we are able to rise to this challenge, and provide much-needed relief. And for that, I’m so grateful.
President & CEO
Six-year-old Ami is not a picky eater.
“My favorite food is every food,” she says confidently. Then she reconsiders: “Except onions. And celery.”
Ami certainly had no objection to the turkey sandwich, apple, carrots, and milk she had just received at a summer meals site. Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank partners with the USDA to sponsor several such sites each summer, when children no longer have access to free meals at school.
Ami, a first grader, is a science buff who loves outer space.
“I love the moon; it’s just so beautiful!” she says. “But I really don’t like black holes. I don’t want anyone to get sucked in.”
And she’s showing an interest in the science of food.
“Food is important,” she says, “because it has some very good qualities and vitamins.”
Even onions and celery! Maybe Ami will get around to liking those someday too!
Your support helps get food to children like Ami during the summer months!
With her freckled cheeks and big, toothy smile, 9-year-old Makaila is the picture of summer.
We met her while she was visiting a summer meals site with her BFF: her younger sister, Lily.
“Lily is my best friend,” says Makaila. “I love hanging out with her … when she doesn’t annoy me!”
During the summer, Makaila keeps busy — playing games, hanging out with friends, and reading.
“I’m reading a chapter book about dragons right now,” she says. “I love dragons!”
Makaila also loves mac and cheese, but at our summer meals site, she got something a little more nutritious — a turkey sandwich, apple, carrots, and milk.
“The food is good and it’s nice here,” Makaila says. “Nothing is better than books, reading, and ice cream … except mac and cheese!”
Thank you for helping to make summer meal sites possible for kids in our communities!
Susan, a single mother of three, was already struggling financially when she lost her job.
When the summer rolled around and her kids no longer had access to two free meals per day at school, things got really tight.
Thankfully, with the support of friends like you, Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank helps to run a number of summer meals sites, making food available to kids from families in need.
“This helps in 800 different ways,” says Susan. “Just having this takes the pressure off my shoulders, even for a minute.”
Susan explained that she fell “into that middle ground where I was making just too much for SNAP benefits but still struggling.”
As Susan spoke, her 7-year-old daughter, Scarlet, munched on a sandwich provided at the meals site.
Scarlet laughed as she introduced someone to a red dinosaur puppet on her hand — and she makes sure you know that this particular dino is a girl.
“Her name is Fire Pack!” Scarlet says. “And I have another one at home whose name is Ice Pack!”
Scarlet’s wonderful imagination is a great thing to have during summer vacation. But all the imagination in the world won’t put food on the table.
That’s why Susan, who is actively seeking a new job, is so grateful for the meals site … which provides much more than food. It also offers daily activities for the kids.
Scarlet loves hanging out with her friends at the site — and Susan loves seeing her daughter’s joy as she giggles and hops around while taking bites out of an apple.
“Look at those little happy food dances,” Susan says. “Oh my goodness, that’s nice to see.”
As a donor, you’re bringing food — and “little happy dances” — to children and families throughout the Central Rappahannock River Region this summer.
Egbert has come a long way in the last year or so, and he’s only looking up from here.
“About a year ago, I hit rock bottom,” he says. “I was using all my money for drugs, so I decided it was time to get help.”
Homeless and struggling, Egbert sought assistance from a local social service agency, which connected him with addiction services — and a food pantry that hosts a weekly meal program.
“The food pantry folks, they never gave up on me,” he says. “They made sure I had a meal every day.”
Now, Egbert is celebrating more than a year of sobriety. He recently got his commercial driver’s license and is working on finding stable housing.
And he keeps coming back to the pantry — not just for food, but to be a positive influence on other visitors who may need a little encouragement.
“Unless people see that there’s a way out, they can stay stagnant,” he says. “I hope to be that example of how there is a way out, so they know there’s hope.”
Your support does much more than provide food. It also helps give hope and optimism to people struggling with other issues. Thank you!