Helping Hungry Families Find the Resources They Need
Heidi Groess wants to change the way people in her South Washington County community think about hunger. And she’s leading by example, using her own family’s experience to start the conversation and inspire others. Heidi has big plans to create positive change in her community. But first, there are a few myths around hunger she’d like to challenge.
Myth 1: Hunger looks the same for everyone
“My husband and I reside in Cottage Grove with our four children. My husband works for a church and I recently left my career to stay home for our kids. My involvement in food programs began out of a rare necessity to bring food into our home, to feed my family for significantly less than our previous budget. We were accustomed to a large monthly grocery budget that was quickly slashed, so I had to find a way to feed our family with very limited funds."
"Our food situation may look vastly different than our neighbors’, for better or for worse. But the more we talk openly about food and hunger, the less, I hope, it causes insecurity and the more it helps empower people to pool resources and provide for their families.”
Myth 2: Eating healthy is expensive
“I’d like to challenge the misconception that you need a lot of money to feed your family. In our time of temporary financial transition, I found a way to feed my family healthy and well-balanced meals for almost zero dollars per month. I’ve had some time under my belt, used several programs, applied for certain benefits, sought out resources and made myself an expert on feeding my family for nearly nothing. Being a voice for this lifestyle comes from gaining confidence in the processes and seeing it directly impact your family.”
Myth 3: Hunger is a choice
“If a parent or guardian feels insecure, hopeless and helpless when it comes to providing basic food for their children, hunger wins. We can change that by helping people gain an awareness of the programs that exist. No one chooses to be hungry. But people do need to be aware of the programs that are in their neighborhoods. We have been blessed with a large network of family and friends, so we will never know the true food insecurity that others who may feel alone experience.”
Myth 4: There are few resources available for people who need help
“During my participation in various food programs and produce distributions, I noticed a lack of involvement of school families. This motivated me to figure out why. It means something to me that people are at least aware of what their county and community have to offer free-of-charge. As I meet others who are not aware of the supplemental food programs that exist, I begin a conversation. Right now, it’s all word of mouth. I am anxiously awaiting the start of school, so I have more time to dedicate to volunteering and being a stronger voice for the programs that have been sustaining my family this past year.”
September is Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign to mobilize the public to take action against hunger. You can be like Heidi and make a real difference in your community by donating, volunteering or simply starting a conversation about hunger. Learn more about how you can double your impact all month long and help feed your hungry neighbors.