Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC's Megan Snider shares her experiences helping families navigate applying for Food and Nutrition Services
Ever since I started working at Second Harvest Food Bank, my job has held meaning for me. FNS Outreach Coordinator is my title. Many people guess at what that means exactly. I explain that I assist folks with applying for, and understanding, SNAP benefits, called FNS benefits in North Carolina and sometimes referred to as Food Stamps.
In the wake of COVID-19, the volume of people seeking assistance with FNS has increased dramatically. Stories mixed with hope and fear have filled my phone line as I sit on my couch helping, as best I can. I listen to the stories of families who have lost all income due to this virus. Conversations full of tears and weary laughter have left me in awe of the resilience of men and women across the state. Children translate for their parents seeking food, who say they are “just hungry.” A widow, now jobless, wonders how she will make ends meet and reassures herself that she can indeed do hard things and that this is a hard time for everyone.
I am speaking with people who tell me that they never imagined they would be in this spot. They have always been the giver--they cannot fathom this new role. Yet this virus knows no limits, no one is excluded.
Through all of this, my heart has been opened anew. I have found such deep value in my job and the work of the Food Bank. At the end of each day, I find myself giving thanks for all that I have; giving thanks for a job, food, the feeling of security. Things I have so easily taken for granted before.
While I am playing just a small role by helping people to apply for FNS, I find hope in knowing that I am assisting them with getting access to food they so deeply need. After this experience I want to scream from the mountaintops the importance of supporting the Food Bank however one can--volunteering, financially, food drives, etc. I also want to help break the stigmas so often attached to FNS support.
Hunger abounds... and there should be no shame attached to that. Everyone deserves to eat.
Perhaps this pandemic will open all of our eyes and hearts to the importance of providing healthy food for everyone.
You can support Megan's on-going work and the mission of Second Harvest Food Bank by making a gift to our special COVID-19 Response campaign: FeedCommunityNOW.org.