Just Food: Starting Over in 2013

We have asked a lot of our clients recently. We have asked them to give us something that they have plenty of, and that is free to give: an opinion. We've invited them to be blatantly honest with them about their struggles, needs, challenges & opportunities as they relate to food insecurity.

Shockingly (hopefully you can sense my sarcasm here), we have found that 100% of our clients didn't imagine themselves in the position that they're in. While everyone was dreaming of being a firefighter, astronaut, cop, physicist, lawyer or doctor, no one was dreaming of being poor. But somewhere between our pre-K years and the time we are legally recognized as an adult, many factors come into play that often relegate us to the same path that many before us are on: poverty. Poverty is generational. It's hard to break. Sure, sometimes it's because people made bad choices. But mainly it's because people don't know how to get out.

Food insecurity is a symptom of a greater issue. Giving out food won't fix it. More pounds distributed this year won't help it. We have to begin to attack the cause of these issues, and not just the symptoms.

So, we have clients coming to us who almost unanimously say, "I want to do better." Shame on us if all we do is put a box of food in their hand when the last thing they want is a box of food. They want a better life.

Our first focal point starts on: the need.

We started talking about what would help our folks have a better life. Wouldn't you know it - most of the time when we started asking that question, no one that was around was anyone who could have answered the question. We started asking our clients. We were shocked and amazed at the results.

So, we're starting over. We're demolishing what was and, from the very ground up, beginning again. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. But at least we won't have sat back another year and been averse to change, while the problem has gotten progressively worse. Just Food will look different from an operations perspective. But I can tell you this: we will be more solvent than we have ever been before. Why? Because we're no longer focused on a symptom.

There are so many numbers about how large the need is in our community, but we really don't know how large the need is. I am not into wasting resources or the investments of people's hard earned money to meet a need that we know exists, but we're not sure to what extent. We want to answer questions that people are asking, and not spend time providing solutions to things that people have already solved. This is where our quest for change began, and where we will pick up with tomorrow.

Tagged: christmas, children, meals, partners, hunger, thanksgiving, community impact, holiday, collaboration, just food, food

Comments

Karrey Britt 1 year, 4 months ago

Access to healthy, yet affordable, foods is one of this community's largest challenges. The Health Department is looking forward to partnering with Just Food to address this challenge.

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justfoodks 1 year, 4 months ago

Starbrite: you are speaking our language! This is precisely what (as you'll hear over the next few days) we are doing. We will be putting various satellite locations in different parts of our community to allow easier access. I know that the numbers for those who would qualify for assistance are higher than what we think they are. We are also working on expanding our homebound delivery programs to assist those who can't get out. If we don't even meet the need, we aren't ever going to help the problem.

DCCDA: thank you! We will let you know for sure!

Sincerely, Jeremy Farmer Just Food jf (at) justfoodks.org

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DCCDA 1 year, 4 months ago

Bravo for being willing to change your strategy to address the roots of your clients' needs! Please let us know how we can be of assistance over the next year!

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Starbrite 1 year, 4 months ago

Please consider also those who are hungry or "food insecure" but are either too proud to ask for help at the food bank or because of disabilities or old age are unable to get to your facility to pick up much-needed food.

Currently I know of three acquaintances who fit into one or both of those categories.

There must be many others in our community who are "food insecure" but remain uncounted and don't get help.

One solution might be to have satellite food pantries through-out Lawrence and the county. That would make it easier for people to access the needed food.

I look forward to hearing what other ideas you have in mind.

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