For Gaye, food insecurity is a periodic reality. At first she was embarrassed about seeking out help at a food pantry, but she has gained a sense of community through interactions with the kind strangers she meets.
1. The Hunger Code
Gaye: It always comes back. People in food pantries just, or people in the street you might meet that are having struggles that. . . you know, I’m an open book. And some other people are as well, and that’s when they share their stories. Or ask, is there other food pantries that you’re aware of. Then you share that information and they share back. When you’re at these food pantries meetings or whatever. Meetings [laughter] to a certain degree. Then they give you updates or information on other food pantries as well that might be in your area that you can visit.
2. Familiar Faces
Gaye: You know, every time you go back to these food pantries, especially the one in Towson, where it’s monthly, you’re meeting the same people over and over again. They’re almost consistently always there. You’re always asking them how they’re doing, and vice versa. So yeah, it’s helpful, it’s healing. It helps you to just vent to somebody who understands because so often and so much, talking to people that can’t relate, and a lot of people I know cannot relate whatsoever to people in distress or that have financial issues or homeless issues or mental illness issues or drug abuse issues. . . those people can relate because they have those issues. Or if they don’t personally, then their family members do.
3. More Than Food
Gaye: With the various food pantries, it helps to, not just make ends meet, but it helps tremendously. Not only, as I told you before, the food items, but also the companionship when you go to food pantries. You essentially talk to others. They impart what they’re going through and what issues they’re dealing with. So it’s almost like a counseling session in a sense, if you will. Because the information that they talk about, their history, what they’re dealing with presently, is either similar to what I’m dealing with or it’s a different kind of issue that I could relate to or they can relate to me. And coming away with that, it lets you regroup and say, you know, you’re not the only one. [tearfully] And there are people out there that are far worse than you. And it makes you, therefore, I think appreciate more.