Sunday, February 10, 2013

The 2013 Offering of Letters; It's All About the Narratives

We could give you a bunch of statistics about poverty and hunger or give you an account of the huge amount of food that was collected in New Mexico in the past year (and there is information below).

In both cases, you would get an accurate picture of the situation we are facing in the state. Last year, Roadrunner Food Bank distributed nearly 23 million pounds of food through its own programs, a statewide network of partner agencies, and regional food banks helping nearly 40,000 children and adults weekly. The Food Bank also rescued more than 16 million pounds of food last year keeping food out of landfills.

But if we only quote statistics, we don't get the big picture. We need some stories about the people who need assistance, and Roadrunner's Web site has a few of those. Here is an example:
Rita lives in a low-income senior housing site in the northeast heights of Albuquerque.  She worked her entire life and had all that life could offer and saved, but a divorce in her later adult years left her without many of the funds she now needs.  Much of what she did save for her retirement years is now gone.  She receives Social Security, but her current monthly income isn’t enough to get through every month.  When we asked about her food situation, she said, “There are days I do without or eat only one meal.  That is difficult especially since I have regular medications to take and I don’t feel well taking them on an empty stomach.”

Thanks to the Senior Helpings food box she receives Rita is now able to have a reliable source of food.
See more stories from Roadrunner Food Bank

A Place at the Table

Stories such as these give us a sense of the folks who need food assistance.  Each story has a different set of circumstances.  Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters also uses narratives to tell the stories of folks who need public assistance.  These stories are contained in the documentary A Place at the Table, which will be the anchor for our letter-writing campaign.  Here is a note from Participant Media:
Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.

Their stories are interwoven with insights from experts including sociologist Janet Poppendieck, author Raj Patel and nutrition policy leader Marion Nestle; ordinary citizens like Pastor Bob Wilson and teachers Leslie Nichols and Odessa Cherry; and activists such as Witness to Hunger’s Mariana Chilton, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Oscar®-winning actor Jeff Bridges.    Read more
For those who live in Albuquerque and central New Mexico, we will have a chance to hear more about the people that Roadrunner Food Bank serves at our Offering of Letters Workshop on Saturday, March 16.  Our guest speaker is the food bank's communications specialist Sonya Warwick.

Successful Food Drives
And while the stories must be told, it is also important to acknowledge donations and the way in which the community has come together to help.  "Feeding hungry people across the state is only possible when a community comes together to act by giving funds, food and service," said Roadrunner Food Bank.  "During the 2012 Holiday Food Drive, hundreds of donors, organizations and individuals stepped forward to take action and help those less fortunate. The three-month Holiday Food Drive held annually from October through the end of December yielded 631,808 pounds of food collected in central New Mexico."

And it wasn't just Albuquerque and central New Mexico. There was also great response in the southern part of the state. "For the first time since the Food Bank opened the branch location in Las Cruces, about 20 organizations also held a food and fund drive for Roadrunner Food Bank’s Southern Branch collecting 14,517 pounds of food," said Roadrunner Food Bank.

No comments: