Every four years, Feeding America conducts a national survey to learn more about the people who are food-insecure, and the conditions surrounding their situation. It's the only study of its kind, and an authoritative resource for data on our nation's food assistance programs and their clients.
And for the Arkansas Foodbank, it's a way to remind ourselves that the people we serve are overcoming many obstacles and are eager to give to others as soon as they can.
Here are some impressions from Foodbank staff who conducted the surveys:
A pleasant man looking to be around 40 was in the line for food in Springhill, Arkansas. His number was chosen for the survey. He said he would be happy to do the survey, however, he had bouts of blindness with his malignant brain tumor and he never knew when they might begin. He went on to say that his extreme medical bills had put him in bankruptcy and were continuing, thus his need for food from the food pantry. He still had a smile on his face and was able to complete the survey for us. A man like that truly makes you take a quick look at yourself and count your many blessings. — Peggy Vickers, Community Relations Director
In Oppelo, I was amazed by the sheer amount of people who took the survey with such focus. Their eyes were fixated on the screen and they really appreciated the survey and were hopeful their answers would make a difference. One person stood out from the rest. After taking the survey, I offered out the Wal-Mart gift card to the woman and she said no thanks and told me to give it to someone else who really needs it. When I reassured her we had plenty of gift cards for everyone who takes the survey, she took it and then gave it to her friend who was in line. — Tyler Lindsey, Marketing and Communications Director
At the Mosaic Church food pantry in Little Rock, most of the volunteers who helped clients fill their boxes received their own boxes at the end of the day. They're just as food-insecure as the people they serve, but they want to give before they receive. — Polly Deems, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator
When I was at the Choctaw Food Pantry, a lovely 81-year-old woman was clearly one of the favorites of the regulars. When I asked her why she came to the pantry, she said, "You get more than food here; you get a community too. This place is an act of love." — Jill Bayles, Online and Digital Media Coordinator