Hiding food insecurity

By Jane Bokun and the Foodbank of Northwest Indiana

When I met Julie Anderson, who is currently the SNAP Support Specialist for the Food Bank and will soon head up its new Order Ahead Program, I could never have known that she once suffered from hunger pangs. She never told anyone, and she never asked for help. I can relate to that. I also have gone through times when I couldn’t access a sandwich to save my life and never asked for help. I love the fact that Anderson is candid about her situation. Her life is like so many others.

At age 29, Anderson married and began a family. After 16 years, the marriage broke down. She became a single mom of four. “I was at rock bottom, having to find a way to support my family completely alone,” Anderson says. “Through a federal program I qualified to enroll in a job training program. One of my first opportunities was with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. I felt very beat down and honestly exhausted, but I needed a job, The Food Bank took a chance on me.”

At the time, Julie didn’t admit to herself that she was food insecure. “Here I was, working around food all day, while being extremely hungry myself.” One day, a fellow employee asked Julie if she’d like to share her lunch. “It was such a kind gesture,” she says. “I realized people at the Food Bank practice what they preach.”

What does the face of hunger look like? Just a short time ago, it looked like me. Anderson is far from the only person who is going hungry because of temporary lack of funds. Many times, food insecure seniors can have health problems including depression, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure because they’re hungry and embarrassed to speak up. The statistics are maddening. They include 5.2 million seniors aged 60-plus who faced hunger in 2020. That’s a lot, but the problem is apparent. We all must speak up when we’re down.

My husband and I both have college degrees. We were in trouble many times and could have used a hand. If you’re afraid to speak up and are in need of food, contact the NWI Food Bank at (219) 980-1777. There are so many programs and volunteer opportunities in this, and all food banks across the country, you’ll be glad you did.