Reverend Samuel has worked in the world of hunger relief for many years. Through his time spent serving food-insecure community members, his understanding of the issue is clear and compassionate.
1. Part-time Problems
Reverend Samuel: A lot of part time jobs that’s been created. And I think A lot of them have to do with the situation of companies not wanting to pay for health insurance so they’re going to a lot of part time jobs with minimum wage. People can’t make it. When you got a family of 2 or 3 making 7.25 or 8 dollars an hour, and trying to keep a roof over your head and feed yourself and those children, that wage is part time, just don’t work. It just don’t work.
2. Preserving Their Pride
Reverend Samuel: What we do is we try to put out a survey like once every couple of years. And the one thing that we get is, “I don’ t know what I would do if I didn’t have this place to supplement, you know, my food resource.” One young fella, and he’s not as old as me, but he comes in and gets food and stuff like that and he says when he goes home, his kid says ‘Daddy you been shopping at the store.’ He has about 4 kids and that kind of touched my heart because when he comes in, we have guidelines about how much we give each customer. I try to throw in a few extra things, you know, to help them out. But I guess the biggest thing, when we started out the pantry, we started looking at the whole man. So food is one thing for intake, but then, you know, people that’s on fixed income and I look at the people that’s getting food stamps and people that are working on certain incomes and seniors, the one thing is, a lot of times they get enough resources to be able to buy things that they really need that you can’t buy with food stamps. Things that you need like toilet paper and underarm deodorant and cleanser to clean the house. And, so we kind of wanted to step a little more out of the box and not be a food resource, but to be those other things like pampers for the babies. So, we wanted to be a little different and what we wanted to do is because they are coming to a pantry, we wanted them to feel like they can lift up their dignity pride and let them choose what they want and not just stuff bags.
3. Word of Mouth
Reverend Samuel: So we have over 60 zip codes that we serve in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Hunger has no boundaries. When a person walks in the door and they say they are hungry, we really don’t care where they come from, we give them food. Biblical principle is: we are our brother’s keeper and we have a slogan, ‘have a heart, lend a hand’ and we try our best to heed to that slogan. So the furthest that someone comes is, well now, it’s probably Severna Park. But it used to be, we used to have people that come from Carroll County and we were able to, through the Maryland Food Bank, to locate resources in Carroll County so they wouldn’t have to travel that far but we had a couple families coming all the way from Carroll County to get food. So, what happens, it’s the word of mouth. And the one young lady who came from there and I asked her how did she hear about us. And what is was, it was one of our church members worked on her job and she was having issues with finances. And the job, it was a part time job, told her she could get food and it was no issue about being in the location, so from that, the young lady came and then she talked to somebody else who started coming.
4. Expanding Collaboration
Reverend Samuel: We’re getting ready to open up on Saturday’s, the second Saturday of every month. Now we want to try to reach out to the working class poor — those people that don’t have an opportunity by 5 o’clock to get here with Saturday between the hours of 9 and 1 o’clock, they can make it to get food. We have kind of a mentor about 8 pantries and kind of get them up and running and off their feet. Trying to get them to be open more hours. I got some that have extended hours that we’re not open. You know they’re open from 2 to 8 in the evening and trying to reach that group of people that’s working. Especially, probably in the last two years with the cut in food stamps and also with a lot of jobs that are out there are jobs that are not full time. They are part time jobs where people are not getting a benefit, able to get a lot of money working minimum wage and they need help. When it comes to the end of the month there’s more month there than money. So they look for places where they can get something to supplement their food resources for their family.