I grew up with a father who worked hard every day and a mother who stayed home to care for the family. Like some of the other stories, I had food on the table at the end of the day. Mom made a lot of bread to fill our bellies so I don’t remember being hungry, per se, but I see now we were food insecure.
When my dad got laid off work, we moved to three different cities in one year so he could find work. I remember mom fixing spaghetti five nights in a row because that’s all there was and it was a decent meal to stretch out over the week. There were similar patterns throughout the years until my sister and I entered high school. Now that I am an adult with a family of my own, I realize there were many times when my parents ate less food than my sister and I, though I don’t think we noticed. As a mother myself, I have repeated that pattern at different intervals through two divorces and five kids—skipping meals, going for days without milk and what-not.
I found myself with breast cancer nine months after getting sober. Five years later, I am more than grateful for being able to attend university and earn my first four-year degree. A coincidence my degree is in Public Health? I think not! Currently I’m the PSU Food Resources Coordinator for our food pantry; we serve close to 5,000 pounds of food to several hundred students a week. We are all ages, genders and of various religious beliefs but we’re all there to get an education to hopefully better our lives in some way. When a student parent comes to me and says she hasn’t eaten in a week so that her kids can eat, well—I know that place and I am again grateful the pantry exists.
Nutritious food is so important for our ability to grow and learn. I am particularly focused on feeding our LGB and transgender communities. I know this place and that more than others, there are barriers that marginalized populations endure, making it even more difficult to access healthy food. Feeding people and preventing hunger is a passion of mine, which is why I joined the Hunger-Free Leadership Institute. My kids have taken on anti-hunger work too. My daughter will randomly say that she knows someone who is hungry; can we feed them? It's truly a blessing to serve my community in these ways.
Join with Vic in the fight to end hunger! Tell your legislators not to balance the state budget on the backs of the 1 in 6 Oregonians at risk of hunger.
This story is sixth in a series of Hunger-Free Leadership Institute Fellows sharing more about why they are passionate about ending hunger in Oregon. Special portraits of the Fellows have been generously donated for this series by Portland artist Lindsay Gilmore.