Working to feed the hunger is a daunting challenge. Depending upon your personal views it may put you on an emotional roller coaster with each meal served. As a volunteer in a soup kitchen, I see the familiar faces from week to week of those whom I serve. As you get to know the people, you begin to see those truly in need of a meal, those whom the meals ease the financial burden and affordability of buying groceries, and those who are faced with the realities of needing to go to a soup kitchen to eat. You also see people whom you mentally question whether they actually need the meal or are taking advantage of the situation. But deep in your soul you erase all of that, a simply say “My job is to provide this meal for those who are hungry.”
Another challenge comes when you go out into the community to deliver meals. When I work with teams of volunteer, many are unaware of the “hunger and real need” that exist within such an affluent area. This is the interaction where biases are discovered and true feelings are exposed. For those living in the woods, the belief is they truly need it, then again I’ve heard it said “They wear better clothing or have better shoes on they I do, so why don’t they spend their money on food instead of buying those clothes”. Some believe if the people living in apartment complexes or temporary housing, such as a local motel, don’t really need to have meals delivered to them, or they are taking advantage of the situation. Others will look at the overall situation of a person living in the woods or temporary shelter and say, if they can afford “drugs or alcohol” they should be able to buy food. My response is always the same “You don’t know their situation and this meal may make a world of difference in their life. Or worst case scenario, it may prevent someone from harming you because they are hungry and need to eat.”
In either case, the best feeling comes from seeing the happiness on a child’s face when they get that nutritious treat. Be it a toddler playing while eating their snack, or the elementary school aged child digging into a plate of spaghetti and asking for seconds. Though the greatest satisfaction comes when I see that teenager quietly walk up, stand back from the crowd, then asks for a meal because they haven’t eaten in “a couple of days”. It is that moment you realize all those minor daily challenges you face, mean nothing compared to what these children face and that is why I do what I do.