Overcoming Food Insecurity with the Help of a Food Bank
“I was a single mom. I was working full-time but still not making enough. It was either food or bills.”
Ellen Croce is a volunteer and former client of the HCS Pantry in Hinsdale, Illinois. Her story is one of resilience and hope in the face of food insecurity. When Ellen first started using the food pantry, she was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. She had two young daughters, one of whom had a heart transplant at the age of two. Despite working full-time, Ellen found it difficult to provide enough food for her family.
Ellen’s situation is not uncommon. Many families in the United States struggle with food insecurity, defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. In fact, the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which partners with HCS Pantry, estimates that over 800,000 people in its service area face food insecurity.
Finding Community at the Pantry
Ellen’s experience with the food pantry was life-changing. Despite feeling humiliated and depressed at first, she found that the staff and volunteers treated her with respect and kindness. “They treat you like you’re human,” Ellen says. “They treat you like, ‘Thank you so much for coming in today.’ That is a huge thing for somebody’s confidence for raising children. For me to know that I could take care of my children, and there are people that are not judging you. That’s huge.”
Neighbor, Volunteer, and Partner
Ellen’s experience with the food bank not only gave her the confidence to provide for her family but also inspired her to give back to her community. As she explains, “As well as being helped, I needed to help.” Ellen became a volunteer at the HCS Pantry and helped open a new food pantry in Willowbrook. She credits the food bank with giving her the self-confidence to move forward and help others. “Donors and volunteers are so much more important than they think they are,” she says. “Please keep doing it. Please share it with your family and your friends. Invite them to come and help. Invite them to be a part of being this place that helps our neighbors.”
Ellen’s story is a testament to the power of food banks and the importance of supporting them. Donors and volunteers play a crucial role in providing food and resources to families like Ellen’s. As Ellen says, “Donors and volunteers are so much more important than they think they are. They are amazing people who give their time, their money sometimes, the food. Please keep doing it. Please share it with your family and your friends. Invite them to come and help. Invite them to be a part of being this place that helps our neighbors.”
As we mark the 40th anniversary of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, let’s remember the impact that food banks can have on people’s lives. Let’s continue to support and volunteer at our local food banks and work towards a future where no one has to go hungry.
Volunteer if you can. And keep on donating. It means the world to people.