Monday, March 5, 2012

For I was hungry

The 6-year-old’s eyes grew wide with anticipation as he watched his mother holding a box of his favorite brand of cereal…and showed sadness when she considered the price and returned it to the grocery store shelf.

Two aisles later, I noticed the reaction with a package of Go-Gurts. And again, a few minutes later, when she passed on brand name mozzarella cheese sticks in favor of a much cheaper package of Great Value processed cheese slices.

By the third episode, the young boy could no longer contain his emotions. His eyes brimmed with tears and he pleaded with his mother.

“Please, momma…just this one thing? I promise I won’t ask for anything else.”

The mother bent down to his level. She, too, was crying now as she explained that they only had so much money to spend on food this week.

She told him how the price of everything had gone up. She reminded him that his father’s job had changed and he wasn’t getting as many hours at work as he used to.

She hugged him tightly, rubbing his back gently to console him as she promised that she would buy the few things he asked for “next week.”

This interaction occurred yesterday afternoon at the Augusta, Maine Wal-Mart as I also was doing my family’s shopping.

By the time I saw them again – in the checkout line next to mine - the differences in our shopping carts struck me.

Mine - the result of a biweekly shopping trip for a family of five - was nearly overflowing; hers contained a fraction of that. Yet we had spent the same amount of time shopping, had traversed the same aisles.

I watched as she pulled out a small handful of bills to pay for her items.

When she discovered she didn't have enough cash for all of them, she pulled an item from the small pile and told the cashier she didn't need it.

She left the store a few minutes later, her bagged items placed in a mostly empty cart.

I share this story because it impacted I'm sure it does you.

My family is fortunate that we don't know the hunger experienced by an estimated 200,000 Mainers...a number that continues to grow each day.

Rising fuel costs bring an increase in the cost of food that has to be transported from distribution warehouses scattered throughout the country.

Rising food costs lead to mostly empty shopping carts and families identified as "food insecure"...meaning they do not "have access to enough food to ensure adequate nutrition."

Many of these families face a struggle on two fronts: their incomes are just high enough to keep them from receiving food assistance yet also inadequate to keep their cupboards and fridges full.

That's why it's essential to support local food pantries, which serve as a lifeline to those desperately in need.

In my community there are two I'm very familiar with - the Faith Christian Church Food Pantry in Gardiner, Maine, which operates out of my church, and the Chelsea Food Bank, which operates out of the River Rock Church in my hometown.

The Bread of Life Ministries Soup Kitchen also provides a tremendous service to those living in the greater Augusta, Maine area.

Whereever you are reading this post, I hope you will make a donation of food or money to your local food pantry.

I know I will be.


  1. Thank you John for this reminder. Addresses for the 2 pantry's listed?

  2. The address for RiverRock (1 word) is 65 River Road in Chelsea right on Rt 9 about a mile from the old AMHI. You can call 622-7031 or email for more information.

  3. Thank you John. My car will be stopping at River Rock on the way home this evening.

  4. Re-shared on FB with comments on a couple in NH and MA that folks could send help to. Great blog. My youngest Steve has come help out at the soup kitchen where I volunteer for his confirmation hours. Had some college girls helping out last night too. Now he wants to volunteer there more often... LOL, whatever gets him volunteering!

  5. Thank you all for the the comments.

    Becky, the bolded names in the post link, respectively, to FCC and the Chelsea Food Bank (@ RiverRock), which allows people to access more info. I am working on a second post, however, which will provide more info on both for those looking for resources locally.

    Rick, thanks so much for sharing the post in your community which I'm sure has the same level of need. Great to hear about your son's volunteer efforts (and now he has added motivation ;). My daughter Emma has volunteered at the Augusta soup kitchen and it was an eye-opening experience for her and spoke to her desire to help others. I expect she will do it again many more times.

    And to my anonymous poster, THANK YOU for your willingness to help others in need. That my words inspired you to take action is the greatest reward possible for me.