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Leadership in Action Thought Leader Uncategorized

A Gap in Resources Difficult to See

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-10-37-14-amBy Kyle Waide, President and CEO, Atlanta Community Food Bank

It is the time of year for feeling overwhelmed. It always happens, right? We are, all of us, bustling around making preparations to close out our year, getting ready for holiday and travel plans, trying to remember everybody and worried about who we might forget.

Most present for me these days is the sense that we may be forgetting the very folks we see every day. Alongside us as we run our errands, make time for our families, rush to stay on task and put meals on the table, there are those that are struggling.

They become invisible.  And, in some respects, there’s a simple reason for that – they are often so close to us they become hard to see.

In our community there are neighbors and friends and co-workers who are doing all the right things and playing by all the rules. We see them working hard, we see them providing for families, we see them at work, in the grocery store, at school and in our own neighborhoods. They are our veterans, our service workers, our teachers, our nurses.

We see them every day, but in a sense we see through them.  We may not know that they are struggling to take care of themselves and their families on their own. We may not see it because the gap between the resources they have and the resources they need can be a matter of just a few days or a few meals.

So many working families get to the end of the month and find themselves short. The dread of that experience can be paralyzing. It creates the feeling of a need to simply survive. The horizon of thinking becomes very short term.

That gap in resources for so many – one that may be invisible when it’s happening to others all around us – can mean the difference between surviving and thriving.

If you are in a constant state of survival, you are not able to plan for life to come. You are not planning for retirement, or saving for your kid’s college education, or investing in a home, or finding time for an additional degree or job training program that can put you ahead.

At the Food Bank, we see the difference that those 2-3 meals a month can make as we serve those who face hunger and food insecurity across metro Atlanta and north Georgia every day.

kyle-waide-casualWhen we come together as a community to fill that need, it has a huge nutritional impact on a family, on an individual, on a member of our armed services, on a neighbor. Food resources become more predictable, parents worry less about providing for their kids, stress levels go down. They begin to think about the possibilities. Stability takes hold. Thriving begins.

The impact of seeing all of this, of making it less invisible, of making those who are struggling more visible is immense. The certainty of a meal gives people a better shot at bouncing back. And public assistance becomes less of a safety net and more of a trampoline.

The more we can invest in people and the more we can take notice of the need around us, the much more likely our neighbors are to stay on the ladder of opportunity and have a stronger path to a more stable future.

That helps us all.

About the Atlanta Community Food Bank

The Atlanta Community Food Bank works to end hunger across metro Atlanta and north Georgia with the food, people, and big ideas needed to make sure all members of our community have access to enough nourishment to live a healthy and productive life.

We all need nutritious food to live the lives we imagine. Yet far too many people in our own community experience hunger every day, including children, seniors, and working families.

Through more than 600 nonprofit partners, we help more than 755,000 people get healthy food every year. Our goal is that, by 2025, all hungry people in our service area will have access to the nutritious meals they need when they need them. It takes the power of our whole community to make that possible. Join us at ACFB.org.


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