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Gleaning Wisdom: Perspectives Change

September 6, 2017

Through this fourth installment of Gleaning Wisdom, Amy explores how tragedy can change one’s perspective. While reflecting upon recent events, she examines how her personal experiences have shaped her opinions on hunger over the years.


It’s hard to admit now, but I once believed that those who were hungry should ‘get off the couch and get a job’.

My opinion has certainly changed over the years, and the recent devastation that Hurricane Harvey has inflicted on southeast Texas has caused me to reflect on my evolving perspective.

About six years ago, I experienced first-hand what some of the people I now help go through every day.

Between 2010-2011, I did not have a full-time regular job, nor could I find one despite my most earnest of efforts. I was living in North Carolina and had a number of part-time jobs including working in the produce section of a supermarket for $7.25 an hour and serving as an adjunct instructor at a college making about $1,300 for a three-credit course.

As hard as I worked, I could not make ends meet and in 2011, I had to move back home to live with my parents.

Fortunately, the opportunity to join the Maryland Food Bank and manage the Farm to Food Bank Program came along.

Life Changes Can Change Perspective

A year or so after I started at MFB, the organization produced a series of videos to tell client stories, and one in particular really moved me.

A woman named Tracy was speaking very frankly about the abrupt change in her family’s situation when the steel mill in Baltimore where her husband worked full time closed. Suddenly, things as simple as buying food for their three children and managing medical issues became huge challenges.

While those experiences changed me, recent events have really driven home how much my perspective on the issue of hunger has shifted.

Perspective Can Change In The Blink Of An Eye

About a month ago, a friend of mine was driving with her granddaughter on Route 404, just down the road from me, when another driver crashed into the side of her car. Both she and her granddaughter were flown to the Shock Trauma Unit at Johns Hopkins.

While my friend is expected to make a full recovery, her precious eight-year-old granddaughter remains in the hospital with a spinal injury. The family was already struggling financially, and with medical bills piling up, they are facing unimaginable challenges.

How Natural Disasters Can Change Perspective

Then, just last week, a friend shared a story about someone close to her in Texas who has lost everything, including her apartment to the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. She will have to start over, and that surely won’t be easy. That woman and tens of thousands of others are going to need help recovering from the historic storm.

What I now realize is that tragedies come in many shapes and sizes, but what doesn’t change is that people affected by adversity all need help.

It’s people like that sweet eight-year-old girl, friends of friends in Texas, and countless others that I keep in mind when I am sweating out in a field or getting poured on gleaning produce.

Whether I know their names or stories is irrelevant, I know the people are there, and in need of my help. This is why I will continue to do what I do as long as I am physically able… until hunger ends!


About the Author

Amy Cawley has been the coordinator of the Farm to Food Bank Program since 2010. She has a deep passion for agriculture, which fuels her efforts to make sure that every food-insecure Marylander has consistent access to nutritious, fresh produce.


Has Your Perspective On Hunger Changed?

Feel free to share your opinion about hunger in the comments section below.

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