A College Intern's Perspective - "I never thought that it could be happening to my neighbor"

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I’m from a small southeastern Wisconsin suburb that consists primarily of white middle-to-upper-class residents, and I never had to overcome hardships related to my survival, nor has anyone I know gone through them. As a college student living in the heart of Madison I’ve only encountered a few eye-opening situations, and I’ve come to realize that what I have seen is only the beginning of the struggles.

I live in a luxurious apartment on campus that is situated next to Porchlight – the local homeless shelter. It became difficult after a few days of looking out my balcony only to see Porchlight without feeling immense guilt. Here I was, stressing out about school and my future, when my neighbors don’t even have a permanent place to live, and might be struggling with other survival issues as well. It has truly made me understand how fortunate I am that I don’t have to worry about my basic survival needs, such as where I’m going to sleep that night. However, it wasn’t until I started volunteering at Second Harvest Foodbank for my service learning course that I began to understand more of the realities of those struggling with survival needs in my community. I always knew that somewhere in the world, someone was suffering from hunger, but I never thought that it could be happening to my neighbor.

Living in my small, privileged suburb, I’ve never heard of anyone struggling from survival needs. It pains me to see the hunger statistics in southern Wisconsin, especially among the children. Almost 1 in 5 children suffer from hunger in southern Wisconsin, and in the summers they typically don’t eat lunch because they no longer receive free or reduced-price lunches from school. Learning the struggles of children facing hunger in southern Wisconsin awed me, especially since there isn’t much the child can do to put an end to their strife. They are still growing and developing, and not having enough nutritious foods – or enough food at all – can impact the rest of their lives.

The services that Second Harvest provides for those who are struggling in our community are really wonderful and vary on a vast continuum, and after volunteering with Second Harvest I’ve realized how much these services impact the community. Without an organization like Second Harvest, many small food banks in Southern Wisconsin would be struggling to feed the clients in their community on a regular basis. Second Harvest has truly opened my eyes and has created a desire in me to do what I can to help put an end to hunger.

Take the next step with me and donate whatever you can give – your time, food, or money – even one hour, one item, or one dollar can go a long way. Together we can work to end hunger; no child – or any human being – should ever have to wonder when their next meal should be.

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