Hunger in Maryland can affect anyone. Families, senior citizens, and hardworking adults who have dedicated their lives to helping others. In this installment of Facing Hunger in Maryland, we meet Barb M., a former social worker, at her local food pantry.
There were senior citizens, students, veterans, and families standing together, waiting to collect food to get them through the Thanksgiving holiday.
And thanks to our Pack to Give Back Local events, these Marylanders were able to get more than just the staples; they received an entire holiday meal, complete with a turkey and all the trimmings.
Although every person in line faced food insecurity, there was a palpable sense of hope in the air — hope that this special meal would relieve them of one less worry and give them a chance to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones.
A Social Worker’s Struggle
Barb M., 62, and her stepmother had just picked up their holiday meal. It wasn’t her first time coming to the mission center’s food pantry — she’s been coming every month for the past four years.
Life for Barb hasn’t always been like this. Barb worked as a social worker, but she was forced to retire early and go on disability.
“I’ve had three strokes,” Barb said. “I have lupus and multiple sclerosis.” Barb also has a condition where her heart doesn’t beat correctly.
Her husband worked too. He was an over-the-road truck driver who “would travel across the country,” she said. He did this until the age of 72. He’s now 74.
Barb admits that things have been hard since he retired.
“It’s been difficult,” she said. “Very difficult.”
Giving Back to the Community
Barb has dedicated her life giving back to others — during times of plenty and times of hardship.
Although she’s now retired, Barb continues to commit most of her time to giving back to the community.
“I have a blanket ministry. I make blankets and I send them throughout the world,” Barb said.
And it’s far more than a hobby. Thanks to donations from the community, Barb is able to produce about 25 hand-knotted blankets a week.
Her commitment to helping others doesn’t end there, as she’s taken on the role of mother to her grandchildren since they were born.
“I’ve raised my two oldest grandchildren since birth,” Barb said. “One just graduated high school. I still have one at home. He graduates this year.”
And Barb, along with her husband, have been their sole providers.
“I’ve never gotten any child support from anyone,” she said.
Barely Getting By
Barb does her best to get by, but it’s not always easy.
“My husband and I slip through the cracks. We don’t qualify for a lot of things,” Barb said.
To supplement the food Barb and her husband get at the food pantry, they have to be resourceful.
“My husband and I both hunt and fish,” Barb said. “We do a lot of praying when it comes to deer season. If we get deer, we’re okay.”
During the summer months, Barb goes to vegetable auctions. To make the vegetables last longer, she turns to canning and pickling.
For Barb and her husband, there are never any leftovers. They can’t afford any leftovers.
A Food Pantry Making the Difference
Although Barb and her husband don’t have much, she thinks about others and reflects on the impact the food pantry in her local community has.
“There’s a lot of need out there,” she said.
Help Senior Citizens Like Barb
Help us address the need and give the gift of food to food-insecure Marylanders like Barb. Make your gift now.
Facing Hunger in Maryland?
Do you have your own story to share about food insecurity, or know of someone who does? Feel free to comment below, or send your story to Ben Gross.