The Cycle of Hunger

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Written by one of Friends of the Family's Housing Support Specialists

Growing up, I didn’t know what it was like to go hungry. I always had enough to eat and had options. We had supper every night at six o’clock on the dot, and that was when we sat down as a family and shared about our day. My mom usually made casseroles or meat, potatoes, a vegetable and bread. She also made sure we had fruit or cottage cheese to go along with it, as well as a dessert and ALWAYS a full glass of milk. There were things my mom would make that I didn’t like, but I was forced to eat and was told that “there are starving kids in the world that don’t get to eat at all so I need to eat everything on my plate.” In order for us to be excused from the table we had to ‘clean our plate up’ and ‘drink all of our milk.’

This was my “normal,” and until I started working at Friends of the Family, I never thought twice about hunger and how my “normal” isn’t the same as everyone else’s.  I don’t know what it’s like to have food stamps, have to go to the food bank, or wonder where my next meal is going to come from. I can say that through educating myself and listening to my client’s experiences I am more aware of the issue of hunger and how to help fight it in our communities.

I recently went to the local Community Kitchen where anyone can get a free meal Monday-Saturday. I often meet with individuals and families affected by homelessness at the kitchen as this is a safe space they frequent. I was completing a housing application with a gentleman who has been chronically homeless for years. I asked him if he had food stamps or a photo ID and he had neither. I asked what he did for food every day. He said if he can make it to the kitchen he goes there to eat otherwise he scavenges for food. He said he often doesn’t eat for a day or two if the kitchen is closed.

Just this month I had two clients who didn’t receive their food stamps therefore the food assistance they so badly rely on was not available. This was of no fault of their own so they called DHS to find out what happened and still have not received any answers. They didn’t miss their review, and they didn’t violate any rules. This is just one issue that sadly happens from time-to-time, and can completely throw someone’s routine and budget off-track. Now the single mother of two has to use the very limited income she has from working to get groceries and decide if she should pay more to keep her lights on or feed her family. Now the young adult who is trying to find work, has no transportation or family in the area, has to come up with a way to get to the Community Kitchen for a free meal or even the food bank to get a box of food that may last a week or so. This is a vicious cycle that unfortunately happens all too often. 

Lastly, let’s talk about transportation. A majority of my clients access public transportation. Imagine taking an hour to get to a grocery store that is in the SAME town you live in because you have to ride the bus. Then imagine your list is very long because you have 4 other mouths to feed. You’re on a time crunch and have limited means to carry all of your groceries back onto the bus or walk the 10 blocks back home. What do you do if it’s raining, the bus quits running at 6 and you forgot something? What do you do when you work Monday through Friday and there is no bus on the weekends? Transportation is a huge barrier for many of the people we serve which goes hand in hand with food insecurity and hunger.

Everyone’s story is different and we all have different views on food and hunger, but one thing that we can do is come together to make sure no one has to live on an empty stomach. Educate yourself.

See someone struggling to carry all their groceries? Ask them if they would like some help. You don’t know their story and a little act of kindness can go a long way.

Does your family have a lot of leftovers after a family get together or holiday? Donate them to the local shelter.

Want to help in a hands on way? Volunteer at your local food bank or community kitchen.

For other resources and ideas visit


Millions of people around the world face hunger on a daily basis and whether you realize it or not in your very own neighborhood. According to USDA data, challenges facing rural areas differ from metro/urban areas in several significant ways. Listed below are some rural hunger and poverty facts. Some challenges facing rural areas as compared to urban areas are:

• Employment is more concentrated in low-wage industries;

• Unemployment and underemployment are greater;

 • Education levels are lower;

• Work-support services, such as flexible and affordable child care and public transportation, are less available;

• The rural marketplace offers less access to communication and transportation networks2

• Companies offer less access to activities that foster administration, research, and development.



1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. (2016). Rural America At A Glance: 2016 Edition. (Economic Information Bulletin 162). Retrieved from:

 2. USDA. Economic Research Service. Robert Gibbs, L. Kusmin. Low-Skill Employment and the Changing Economy of Rural America. ERR-10. October 2005