Hunger Has a Bitter Taste

27 Mar

My next meal was something I took for granted. I knew food insecurity existed but didn’t really imagine someone living in a prosperous country such as the U.S to suffer from it. So I went to Atlanta for an alternative spring break, and it changed my life.

I imagine the [lives of those people we met] now, typically working with low income and a big enough family and expenses. Every day is a challenge. Happiness is always around the corner. Soup kitchens symbolize an exchange of pride for food. They don’t wish for this, neither have they planned for it, but they plan for the next soup kitchen because they cannot go back to the same one in more than couple of weeks. Lost and unable to find help, and asking for it might be even harder. I saw three initiatives to address hunger: Atlanta Community Food Bank, Stop Hunger Now and The Georgia Avenue Co-Op.

The Atlanta Community Food Bank had a great system. Successfully taking unprofitable products from businesses and making that process very smooth from one end, and distributing it for a symbolic price to cover the cost to those who need it most. I didn’t imagine they had a website to book the merchandise. They had many volunteers from the local businesses and advanced supply chain systems, impressive.

Stop Hunger Now targeted international hunger, a bigger and severe issue. Statistics about hunger are supposed meant to touch the heart, instead they go to the brain, and loses context. Every six seconds a child dies from malnutrition and related causes, but how about that child is your distant cousin, neighbor’s kid, your friend’s kid, your son or daughter? Stop Hunger now makes a packet of six meals that cost under $2. Incredible how it’s so simple to touch a life if we just reach out. They give out to schools for feeding programs and disasters relief.

The Co-Op was brilliant. It created a community that is the social fabric and net to embrace the members together. The members of the Co-Op led, coordinated and supported it. It helped build an interconnected family that share knowledge and help each other outside the simple reason of food for the co-op and can grow together. There was so much laughter, so much joy, contentment, genuine happiness, a sense of belonging and pride emitted from what seemed like a hectic market as they divided and split the food for the families. I was proud to be allowed to lend a helping hand.

I saw hope embodied with a smile on the face of the old and less fortunate. I saw the hands of passionate people who support a bridge of light to shine and warm those in need, and for a brief time, I was one of them. I did go expecting to find the answers, and what I needed to find is the problem. My arrogance was shattered; I had fun, and I was content with how much I changed. Hunger turned out to be a symptom, a cause, of a bigger problem. We will have a chance of solving the bigger problem if we get out of our bubbles and work together with understanding to elevate our society.

– Al-Sharif Musab Al-Barakati

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