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Putting a face on food insecurity

As Midwest Food Bank grows in size, we also want to grow in understanding. Understanding the stories of our food recipients helps us fulfill our mission. With every food recipient we meet, we grow in compassion and humility.  We appreciate their willingness to partner with us and are honored to learn their stories and share them with you.

We would like you to meet some of the people we serve. Like us, you'll find that we have much in common. The people you'll meet have received Tender Mercies, MFB's savory rice and beans meal fortified with vegetable protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

For many families living in America, food insecurity is a difficult reality. Like all of us, Elaine does what it takes to make sure her family has food that they like to eat. 

For the past three years Elaine, her husband, and their 7-year-old daughter have been living in a homeless shelter in one of the poorest zip codes in America. To supplement the food her family receives at the shelter, Elaine walks to a nearby food pantry at a local church and picks up groceries each Saturday. These help sustain her family throughout the week. 

"We like to make Tender Mercies a lot; we add a little garlic, spice it up with some pepper, and it's pretty good," says Elaine. "We like it!"

Pam is a long-time food pantry volunteer who has a heart for giving back to her community. She knows firsthand the impact donations make. 

"Many years ago, I was a food recipient," says Pam. "I grew up in a family that didn't have much, and as a young girl, we regularly used food pantries to make ends meet."

Pam sees how Tender Mercies meets the needs of the children and families facing food insecurity in her community every day. She regularly packs Tender Mercies Rice and Beans into the grocery bags distributed by the church pantry where she serves - sending hundreds of bags out the door every week. 

"When we were serving in the dining hall – we would have every seat filled, sometimes over 400 people," says Pam. "You can't imagine what food insecurity looks like until you see it first hand."

Every week, Nick volunteers at a food pantry co-op. In exchange for his time, he earns points to shop from the pantry store. Because of Nick's service, he can select the food he takes from the co-op, including Tender Mercies.

"Tender Mercies is good and I can cook it easily in the hotel room," says Nick. "It fills me up, and it's really tasty."

After being released from prison, Nick found himself homeless, jobless, and without many resources. Nick works at a nearby hotel to pay for his room and board. His job at the hotel and volunteer hours at the co-op provide him with the food and shelter he needs to survive. Willing and able to work, he is putting the building blocks of his life back into place one day, one hour, one step at a time. 

Of course, food insecurity goes beyond the borders of the United States. Haiti has had a volatile year, with political upheaval, gang violence, and earthquakes. Tender Mercies is the main way MFB Haiti meets the needs of the food insecure.

When Louna was only ten years old, she lost her father, Paulius, to an unknown disease. This left Louna, her mother, and her younger brother to survive alone in Haiti with few resources available.

Over the years, Louna has relied on the important proteins vitamins, and nutrients in Tender Mercies to provide her with the building blocks she needs to grow mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Louna has a fire in her heart to help others who struggle. She has plans to be a doctor and to hold clinics in the mountains. She dreams of honoring Paulius through a life of serving others.

You can impact the lives of Elaine, Pam, Nick, and Louna, and thousands more like them. Click here to find out how.

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