The first time Shannon received help with food, she was 8 years old. It’s a story we hear all too often – Shannon’s mom was escaping an abusive home and along with her younger sister they moved into a women’s shelter. They had no possessions besides their clothes, and they relied on the shelter for everything, including meals.
And of course, this made a lasting impression on Shannon. “I was aware my mom was sad. I was aware that we did not have anything of our own. I know there were bills not paid during that time. I remember my mom crying.”
Shannon recalled her childhood being difficult even after escaping the abuse. She and her sister received their meals through the free and reduced-price meal program and their single mom struggled to make ends meet. It’s an extremely tough way to grow up, but it made Shannon want to do whatever she could for others.
Now a mom of three children under nine years old, Shannon has involved the whole family in volunteering with Western Wake Crisis Ministry, one of the Food Bank’s local Partner Agencies. She and the kids go on the weekend to help the food pantry prepare for their week of distribution. They organize freezers, sort boxes of food onto pallets, as well as cleaning and preparing the front office.
“My kids have a blast,” said Shannon. “They make it a fun time and are excited to help other people.”
Combating hunger in the classroom
Shannon is also a middle school teacher and has students who arrive every day hungry. “It is your first worry every day as a teacher,” she shared. “You keep food in your desk. You pay for their lunch when they do not have money on their account. You know that a hungry kid cannot learn which means that they cannot make a life for themselves.”
When she can, Shannon even brings in dry cereal for the kids to snack on during morning lessons. “It increases their engagement and puts their mind on their learning instead of their tummies.” Her students don’t normally look forward to school breaks like summer vacation or the holidays. Shannon has worked at a school with a Weekend Power Pack program and sees how excited kids get about receiving the food. She also knows there are resources like the Food Bank to help her students and their families who are concerned about where their next meal is coming from. “It takes away a worry from a child that should never be a child’s worry.”
You can help
Across our 34-county service area, more than 182,000 children don’t get to eat 3 meals each day. You can take action to ensure students arrive at school nourished and ready to learn. For every $1 donated, the Food Bank can provide 5 meals, thanks to our relationships and buying power as a Feeding America food bank.