Friday, June 27, 2008

Take all

Judy used to work third shift at Wal-Mart and then one day her husband had a stroke. From that point forward, misfortune came for both of them, in violent waves. The initial onslaught lasted about three years. He became a diabetic. She became a diabetic. He had vascular surgery - nine times. She became depressed and quit her job. He recovered. She had a heart attack. His back gave out. She had her leg amputated.
He died.

Miserable and angry, and convinced she'd never walk again, she sold her car one month, to pay the rent.

Now, ten months later, facing double bypass surgery, she's down to selling bricks. She asks a neighbor regularly, what point there is in living and the neighbor, try as she might, doesn't always have a good answer.

Judy, like Malea in an earlier post, recently received her second emergency food box.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cannon County

Short Mountain Bible Camp, at the top of Short Mountain.

I set off in a white van Tuesday with two women from Second Harvest Food Bank. They were traveling to a couple of outlying counties to do site visits. Just for those who don't know, a site visit is when a Field Representative goes out to the partner agencies either to get them set up initially, or to generally see how they're doing. There's a little bit of an inspection but it's not nearly as stressful say, as a visit from the Health Department or the guy from Codes showing up. It's more like a check-up at the dentist but without the drilling.

We ended our day with an excursion to Short Mountain Bible Camp. They didn't have a site visit scheduled but were kind enough to let us visit anyway.

One question that lingered on our minds throughout the trip was: How do the people who live that far out in the country manage to support themselves (jobs being sparse and gas being four dollars a gallon)? Are there (there must be) rural poor families who are no longer able to afford the commute?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Road trip

Met this really terrific woman named Carolyn, in Cannon County yesterday. She runs a food pantry at the Center Hill Baptist Church, just at the base of Short Mountain. Her pantry is about the size of a tiny bathroom closet but thankfully, there's plenty of space in the room that surrounds it for a couple of freezers and a nice-sized kitchen and dining area. They hadn't quite finished the kitchen part yet because, as Carolyn said, and she's absolutely right, "Money doesn't last as long as it used to."

The photo below is Center Hill Methodist Church, est. 1962, which is situated a stone's throw away from Carolyn's pantry. They aren't related but the architecture matches the feel of this rural community.

Mary, Juanita, Malea and Addison

Five days a week, from ten to five, Mrs. Fletcher and Williams work (bagging groceries) for the Rutherford County Emergency Food Bank. If we're lucky, this time next week, we'll have heard from them personally.

Yesterday, Malea and Addison made their second visit to the food bank. Like many other working poor families, she and her husband do the best they can but once the bills are paid, there's nothing left over for groceries. One visit to the doctor this week, took her grocery money.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

From the ground up

There a good bit of brainstorming going on over at Tyson's Voices for Hunger, about alternative ways to prevent food insecurity (that is, not knowing where one's next meal will come from) Feel free to read the responses and make your own suggestions.

Also, there's a nice op-ed piece at the New York Times, about getting to know your neighbors. Now, there's a crazy idea. You can get to it through FI Space, which is a great resource for all you non-profits or anyone for that matter, who's busy moving toward the future.

This (above) is part of the community garden space at East Nashville Cooperative Ministry. It was taken about a month ago so I'm hoping it looks a bit different now. This blog is going on a little day trip and will return later this afternoon.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nashville's Table delivery

At most places, there's no shortage of volunteers to help unload the food truck when it arrives.