Pat volunteers at her church every week, serving hungry Marylanders hot meals. While she’s not food-insecure herself, it pains her to see what hunger does to the children and families in her community.
1. This Side of the Table
Pat: I thank god that I’m on this side of the table. ‘Cause I know, I mean everybody gets hungry. Everybody does. Whether they can run to a fast food place and pull out some money. But these people can’t do that. I can’t just imagine how they y’know? Especially children. How do they understand what it’s like to want a glass of milk and don’t have no milk? You know? They don’t have any milk. A child, how do you explain it? It’s like explaining to them there’s no Christmas. I mean, they’re hungry.
We have our own people right here that are hungry and you can see it in them. And when them children sit there, they got a cake here, they got a cupcake. They got maybe candy. We make up candy things. And they go for the food. They go for the food. Then they eat their goodies. What kid does that? I know my boy, I set a piece of cake down in front of my boy, he eats that cake and then goes for the rest. These kids go for the food. And then they want to save it. They want to wrap it up and take it home. All the time, oh, all the time. Foil papers that you pull out of the thing, they’re expensive. We used to not give them out. But we give them out now. Because these people are wanting to take this food home and save it. So we just buy more. Last week, it was my turn. I brought two boxes in. I don’t know who brought them in this week but we give it to them. They wrap it up.
2. Hidden Hunger
Pat: Yeah, we have some families that work in here. Quite a few of them. They come in. They come in with their kids. Yeah, there was a man and a woman and their two children. They come in every Wednesday. There’s one little girl called Grace. They have been coming here since that little girl was about two weeks old. I’m 69 years old. I never realized we have so much hunger here. I never realized it.
Now you’re going to have somebody comes up with a $120 football jersey on, but they could have got it off our table or off of another clothes give away. These people are hungry. They’re hungry.
3. A Family Affair
Pat: We’ve been averaging out, we go to 175-185 people a day every Wednesday here. More people and children. More families, yeah, a lot more families than ever. I can tell when they’re hungry, especially the kids. They get breakfast in school sure, but some of these kids go to bed hungry. After they leave here, they want something to eat. So I’m always fixing them up goodies to take home with them, you know? It’s just unbelievable.
4. Giving Back
Pat: We got one man, he came here, he lost his job. He came here for, I guess a good three months, and he got a job. He doesn’t fail every Wednesday, he’s here, giving us $10. The first time, I remember, he said, “I don’t know what to do. I’ve never been here before, how do I do this?”
So the lady at the salad bar, Ms. Edie, said “Go over there to pack, go over to that window, that’s where you start.”
“I’ve never been here before Ms. Pat. Can you show me what to do?”
So I set him up with the food and stuff, you know, and directed him over to the next table.
He said, “I’ve worked for 20 some years at this place and got laid off,” he says, “and I cannot find a job.” He says, I mean, he acted like he was trying to explain why he was here.
I said, “You don’t need no explanation.” I said, “We all have hard times.” I said, “You’re here. We got food and we’re going to help you out.”
And when he got his job, he came and said, “I got a job. I start tomorrow,” meaning Thursday. I said, “Well, you need a lunch?” He looked at me. I said, “Do you need a lunch?” I said, “I’ll fix you up something,” ‘cause we give sandwiches too. So I went up and got him two sandwiches, put it in a brown bag, got him an apple, got him a piece of cake. I said, “Here’s this’ll start you off your first week of work.”