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I Would Have Starved Without The Food Bank

I would have STARVED without the food bank. Consider spreading the word and help to stop hunger. #foodbank #help

I stood there shocked. It was the day after my roommates and I had thrown a huge party. I had opened the cupboards and realized that we had literally been eaten out of house and home….

When I first moved out on my own there was a tremendous amount of adjustment time. I was young, foolish, and unfortunately in bad company. To make matters worse, I didn’t know how to budget, I had bills to pay, I had to finish my schooling, and couldn’t find a job better than a counter attendant/bakery assistant at a donut shop. I worked graveyard shifts for over a year at the wage of $6.10/hour and I did this while attending highschool. How I did it, I really don’t know. These were not the best times in my life….

I remember moving from cupboard to cupboard and feeling completely overwhelmed by the disparity. There was nothing to eat. To make matters worse, we had no money. Nothing. Not a penny until our pay cheques, which were over a week and a half away.  I knew I could eat one free meal at the donut shop every day but I had no idea what I was going to eat for my other meals.

That was when I realized it. We needed to go to the food bank.

I remember trying to think of an alternative. I believed that food banks were for homeless people… that I would be taking from someone more needy than I.

However, I soon realized that if I didn’t go, there would be repercussions. I needed food to keep my mind and body healthy.

I swallowed my pride and went.

I remember being so fearful and wondering if they would turn me away. My stomach was in knots, partially from the hunger and partially from the anxiety of knowing that my life had come to this.

The staff at the food bank were kind, understanding, and gave us more than enough food to get us through two weeks.

Due to ongoing financial challenges, I ended up using the food bank for almost a year.

This is something I haven’t told anyone in my life… until now. I was afraid of the judgement and stigma surrounding my helpless situation. I was concerned that others would think I was weak because I had to rely on a social service for help. I was frightened that friends and family would judge me for the poor decisions I had made in the past and I was concerned that it would impact what they thought of me now.

However, the reality is, we all have times of need. We all have moments when we need to reach out for help. At that time in my life, I was thankful for the food bank and the services they provided. Their services helped feed my mind and body so that I could continue with my education.

A couple of decades later, I find myself regularly donating food and volunteering at the food bank. I’ve even written a post on how to help your local food bank. The help that they extended to me in my time of need will never be forgotten.

My church is spending the month of October helping the hungry of my city in a variety of ways:

  • They are encouraging the congregation to fill paper bags with food for the food bank.
  • They’re arranging volunteer times for people to cook and serve meals for the homeless.
  • They have an ambitious goal to raise $30,000 to donate to the homeless and hungry in my city.

I would have starved without the food bank.

They want to BLESS others in need. I can make a difference and you can make a difference. Let’s make a difference together… today.

October 16th, is World Food Day. Please contemplate how you can help feed the hungry in your community. Also, if you would consider sharing this post? Let’s spread the word about a food bank success story.


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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care. 

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84 thoughts on “I Would Have Starved Without The Food Bank

  • Suzi

    Thank you for sharing your story! While I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had to use the Food Bank, I’ve donated my whole life as my parents have given to the Food Bank for as long as I can remember. I’m passing that on to my young nieces, who enjoy going to donate to the Food Bank and telling me they want to help other people. It takes a village to feed a child and you never know when you might need the Food Bank yourself! Bless you!

  • Rebecca

    I honor your journey and find you to be incredibly inspiring. You are absolutely right about sometimes people just need help, and when that help is available, there should be nothing but support. No judgment, no shame, just help. And we should all help as we can because it could be any of is anytime. Human to human, heart to heart- I love your truth jennifer!

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Thank you for being so willing to share your heart with us yet again, Jennifer. This can be a contentious issue and people can be very judgmental. Yet, times are tough. While we haven’t needed to utilize our local food bank, my husband and I have had this discussion. We have resolved that we will swallow our pride to feed our children should that time ever come. Like you, we see it as a last resort. In the meantime, we are in prayer for food banks all over the country and the people they are serving. Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. It is one that concerns me deeply.

  • Ana Lynn

    We’ve been there too. As hard as it was on our pride, especially on Frank’s because he thought he had failed me, us, our family we swallowed it and realized we need to think of our children. Like you, many people don’t know this about us, and we haven’t told anyone… up until now. I do have a post coming out about how we wound up in Croatia and this little tidbit is only a small part of the story.

  • Janine Huldie

    Jen, thank you so much for sharing this here with us today and truly couldn’t love you more if I tried. Seriously, you are one classy and brave lady, too. I have to check out the link you shared and again definitely take my hat off to you for being so honest here ;)

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words Janine.

      This was a really hard post to write and share. People can be judgmental. However, I figure even if someone rejects me as a result of my honesty about this, then it’s best I know that they are that type of person now, rather than in years from now.

      Thank you once again for the encouragement and support… I truly appreciate it.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Hunger is definitely a cause near and dear to my heart. Sometimes these personal experiences bring about a desire to make things better for others. It’s definitely a success story… and I hop that by sharing and helping we can contribute to many more success stories.

  • Cindy Hasko

    Hey Jen!! Sometimes, ya have to do, what ya have to do. …And as for people judging, which people are so quick to do!!,… Matthew 7:1-3 ~ “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” I think it’s wonderful that you & your church want to help!! Sounds like you’re serving as Jesus did. <3 xo

  • Tiffany @ A Touch of Grace

    It took some guts for you to hit publish on this post Jennifer. We all have times of need, whether it be food, spiritual, grief, etc. We all need help at some point in our lives. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you’re able to give back now, to the cause that once helped you. :)


  • Chris Carter

    Oh Jennifer! What a beautiful honest story and oh how I love that your church is doing this during October! Our church has a regular mission base at our local food bank here. This is just so important to share for all in need, and for those who feel shame for needing! Thank you for your authentic voice, and I too pray that those who struggle can be filled with provisions from those who can give…

  • Leilani

    I think it’s so important to remember that there will be a time in our life when we will need help. And there is nothing wrong with that. And since we will all be on the needing side of things, it’s so great to be on the giving side of things when we can. Thanks for sharing this post!

  • Jessica Dimas

    I love your honesty and these kinds of posts really hit home with most people because we have all been there, secretly or not! My husband and I have been through some tough times being married at such young ages of 18 and 19, so I have for sure received help. I love giving back and I love this cause, thank you for being brave enough to speak out about it!

  • Rach D

    So authentic! I love how you shared this & am sure it will bless many :) I too, had to use the food bank a few times years ago…and applied for an emergency food fund from university (I was pregnant with my first baby at the time). God can use these humbling situations to cause us to recall the lean times later in times of plenty :)

  • René

    I think this is a great and important post. There is a belief that the food bank is for ‘other people’…homeless people with addictions or abused single mothers. The fact is that each one of us could find ourselves in need before we even know it. This post is a great reminder of that – thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda @ Growing Up Madison

    I had no idea that October 16th was World Food Day. I told you I always learn something new whenever I visit here. As for food banks I donate a lot, especially to my church since we have one that is very active. If I ever need it I’m sure I’ll have no reservations going there and getting food for my family. We all need help every once in a while and there is definitely no judgement here. :)

  • Practical Parsimony

    I started using a food bank when I became disabled and had a very limited income and could not work to earn money, just a bit even, for food. So, here I am with three degrees (BA, BA, MA) and need a food bank. Fortunately, there are about 20 in this county. I can go to whichever I choose, but NOT all of them. I am not proud of this. Sometimes, I feel like a failure, but I know I am not!

  • Lisa @ The Golden Spoons

    Thank you, Jennifer, for hearing your story. I think that, sometimes, we do think services like the food bank are for “other people.” Hearing stories like yours makes it real and makes us realize that ANYONE can need those kind of services at different times in our lives.

    Our church is getting ready to kick off and outreach project with our children in which we will be focusing on heaping to relieve hunger for the next 3 months my collecting canned foods for our local food bank as well as collecting money for a variety of projects that feed hungry people in our city.

  • Katie | The Surly Housewife

    So proud of you for sharing your journey. This is something close to my heart as my husband was raised by a single father and they had to rely on food stamps for their food. Their is a lot is stigma but unless you have been in the persons’ shoes their is no room to judge :) Great work!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Thank you Katie! I’m so glad I published it. I hesitated for fear of judgement but that’s how we keep people thinking and believing the wrong things… by never speaking up and never sharing our stories. I appreciated hearing your perspective. Thank you!

  • Tamara

    So glad you shared your story.
    We received assistance from WIC when we first had Scarlet. It was hard to admit we qualified, and hard to admit we used it.
    They were hard times and things are better now, but I always remember the help we got and we try to pass our help along.

  • Robbie

    Thank you for bravely sharing your story. In my line of work I see families of young children struggling each and every day to keep food in their bellies. I love Food banks and the safety net they provide for so many.

  • Ceil

    Hi Jennifer! What a story! I’m so glad that the Food Bank workers were so kind to you, imagine how you would have felt if they abandoned you?
    Our church has a food bank that is open three days a week. We do donate food and paper goods, and support it with money too.
    I think you have a more immediate perspective because of your experience. It gives you a tender heart because you can see yourself in the clients of the pantry. Good for you for giving back, and encouraging others to do the same.
    It was brave of you to share. I admire you for that!

  • Sarah Nenni Daher

    We have so many fun food bank drives here in Seattle and our daughter had a blast at the last one sponsored by the US Postal Service. She was SO EXCITED to hand our postal carrier the bag and even said (unprompted), “I hope it helps to feed lots of kids.”

    The postman and I both had to wipe a tear after that. It was lovely that no stigma was associated with it, no judgement. The simple act of helping others made our little girl so excited.

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing this because it serves as a wonderful, heartfelt, and close-hitting reminder to each of us to support others without reason or judgement.

  • MB

    Gee, another amazing post! I’m glad you posted this topic because it really raises the importance of what the food bank in whatever area of the country you are in does for people. There’s no shame in having to do this, especially when hard times can befall us all. I know quite a few people who have made use of their church’s food pantry — one lady I know said that she had to make sure they paid their mortgage first and not think about anything else until her husband was able to get a job. It really makes me want to find a place to contribute.

  • Stefanie @ Calledhis.com

    Awesome post! I feel like people can be so judgmental when it comes to people accepting ‘charity’ or assuming everyone who gets some kind of assistance is just cheating somehow. God bless you for sharing this, I hope other women and their families who need help will have the courage to seek it!

  • Tricia the Good Mama

    This is such a wonderful post! I’m so glad you shared this story. It’s such a great story of the importance of services like the food bank. The food bank helped you get through a tough period of time and now you are the one giving back. I hope to show my son the importance of helping others out. You never know when you’ll need the favor yourself.

  • Lauren

    How amazing that you posted this. There is a girl at my church who is pregnant with her third child. She has two babies 1 & 3 and both in diapers. She left an abusive home and is starting over with nothing. 4 years ago… I left a similar situation with two infant twins and know how it feels to have nothing. I help because I’ve been there. I had food stamps, I had WIC. I felt ashamed to admit it and even still do, but I did what I needed to do to get my babies out of that home. I applaud your honesty and support your cause.

  • Carol Amato

    Hi, Jennifer,

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart warming story as it was definitely an inspiration to me. Your willingness to be vulnerable and so very transparent is a huge blessing to all who read your article.

    No judgment here. I used to be very embarrassed as a child when we had to go to thrift stores to buy secondhand clothing, but it’s so amazing when as an adult rearing three small children I chose to go to a thrift stores simply to be thrifty, not because I couldn’t afford to buy new clothing. Everything comes full circle.

    Bless you for sharing your life lessons and being open so that others can learn to.

    Have a blessed weekend.

    – Carol

  • Andrea

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know it wasn’t easy but maybe for someone reading your post – it gave them the courage to accept help…whether through a food bank or from their church, a friend or family member. Life is just hard sometimes. I have a terrible time asking for help but am grateful that others have known how to help when I couldn’t ask.

  • Bev

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it takes a lot of courage to admit when you need help, and to share parts of your past. I believe there is absolutely no shame in using a food pantry, or any type of social service, when you need them. That is exactly why they exist! Stopping by from SITSBlogging.

  • Lana

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. This could happen to any of us – and it’s good to hear a personal story! I have donated money every month to our local foodbank – such a simple way to give back, and so helpful. Our food bank prefers money donations to food because they are able to buy in bulk. Thank you again for sharing :)!

  • Caroline

    I admire your vulnerability and am so glad you shared this with us! What a beautiful reminder how the food bank can help and impact someones lives and I love that you can now give back!!!

  • Sarah at The Zoo

    We all need help sometimes. I think it\’s great that you asked for help when you needed it most and that people rose to help you. I also commend you for giving to others in a similar situation now that you can. I give to my local foodbank every week in Canada and while in Mexico, we sponsor a child\’s breakfast at my kids school (which you will be kindly doing this year).Besos Sarah

  • Jaime Buckley

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing this with us.

    You’ve inspired me (yet again) in a few things I want to teach parents on my own blog.

    Funny thing is, we had the most wonderful holidays this year…and yet Kathilynn and I were praying for food in the house. We are still living day by day, one step in faith at a time, working as one mind, one heart in this family.

    In the process of trying to help someone else, a food bank placed exactly what we needed at the very moment we needed it last week.

    How’s that for a miracle?

    Truth is, one of the most beautiful angels I ever had the honor of meeting was a near toothless, chain-smoking alcoholic woman with a heart of gold.

    I’d gone from making six figures to near homeless in a matter of months when the economy dropped. Someone wrote into a radio station about our family during the winter. We were desperate. Names weren’t given, but we received a letter in the mail–given vouchers for food, diapers and blankets.

    What’s odd was the location helped the adult homeless. Families didn’t come there. When Kathi, who was 7 months pregnant, walked in with me, we stuck out like a sore thumb.

    One homeless gentleman hit another with his hat so my wife could have a seat on the stairs (they didn’t have any chairs).

    What I remember most was when this darling woman reached out over the desk and grabbed my arm as we got up to leave–our vehicle was literally FILLED with goods they never knew how to move (diapers, wipes, kids clothes, shoes…and food).

    “I want you to promise me,” she whispered, “that if you need anything…and I mean anything, you come back here.” She smiled her toothless grin, tears welling up, “I will make sure those precious children have what they need.”

    I nodded, feeling very uncomfortable, but she gripped my arm harder.

    Promise,” she repeated.
    So I did.

    There are amazing heroes in this world, Jennifer, and I’m SO delighted to hear you’re one of them.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      What a wonderful story you shared here Jaime. It sounds like that woman had a strong impact on your life… and I’m certain she’s touched many lives. Sometimes we need to ask for help. I wish our society embraced it more rather than shaming it. It’s my hope with stories like your and mine, people can see that struggles can hit any one of us– and that we need to encourage and support one another.

      Thanks again for sharing.

  • Ifeoma Samuel

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful article!
    You always have a lot to teach and share with your wonderful readers. I am very grateful for this story.
    Hugs and kisses from miles away.
    Blessings to you.