Hunger can affect anyone

By Sue Curtis

After I was out of college and living on my own, I ran into a problem that many young folks experience. I was never actually taught how to handle money or how to budget. I didn’t use my money wisely, so long story short, I ended up with a large debt and living paycheck to paycheck.

Sometimes I could only pay part of the bills that were due each month. I honestly am not sure how I would have gotten out of the debt had it not been for three saving graces. First, a relative passed away and left me some money that paid off most of the debt. Secondly, I got a roommate for a couple of years who helped with the monthly expenses. Finally, I had a career that allowed me to increase my earnings a bit each year.

I went from rolling pennies to buy gas and eating only cereal the last few days of the pay period to having a solid savings account. But it took years. And quite honestly, learning to manage money by trial and error is not the smartest way. It required benevolence, help from others, working hard, and luck for me to find my way out of the quagmire.

Some folks don’t have the good fortune I did. It turns out that now, decades later, we still have people in our country — in our state — right here in our neighborhoods who are often hungry and without food.

Many of them are in the boat that I was in — they have money, but also have too many bills or not sufficient funds to cover their costs. Some of them may not have jobs, so no income at all. Some may have more people in their family than they can feed. Whatever the reason, hunger affects people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, all races, all ages, and both genders.

Ohio has a program, called Operation Feed, which is designed to help support food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters. One in six people in Ohio live from meal to meal — they don’t know where or how their next meal will be provided. It could be your coworker, a neighbor, or even a relative.

Only 5 percent of folks who use food banks or shelters are homeless. One in five is a homeowner. At least half of those who use a food pantry have at least one working adult in the family. About 23 percent are college graduates, 35 percent are children, and 15 percent are senior citizens.

Operation Feed has provided meals for families in need since 1980. The mid-Ohio Foodbank distributed over 54 million pounds of food last year — enough for 130,066 meals each day.

This is a weekend we have, for 14 years, taken some time to remember our heroes — the police, the first responders, the firefighters, the military, and those who risk their own lives to save others. It’s also fitting that we include in that group those people who provide food to the hungry. They, too, save lives and uplift hearts.

By Sue Curtis