Nearly 30 anti-hunger advocates from the Greater Chicago Food Depository and member agencies are joining more than 900 other advocates in Washington, D.C. for the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference. They are learning about advocacy best practices and meeting with Cook County lawmakers. In the “Why I Advocate” series, members of the group explain what motivates them.
Ronald Hargrave is the Outreach Case Manager at St. Vincent De Paul Center, a Greater Chicago Food Depository member agency in Lincoln Park.
In the past few years, I’ve seen the face of hunger change. More and more, the people coming to the St. Vincent De Paul Center on the North Side are people who have lost their jobs. They’re older adults who are on a fixed income. They’re people deciding between paying for medicine and buying food. They’re struggling to afford food on a day-to-day basis.
All those people have had a different road to the food pantry. But, there’s one thing they have in common: the need for nutritious food. Too many times I’ve heard people at the pantry say that after rent, utilities, other bills and living expenses, they barely have enough money for food, let alone nutritious food.
We receive fresh fruit and vegetables through the Food Depository’s Food Rescue program and that’s a huge part of getting nutritious food into our community. But we also need to speak for our neighbors in need. We need lawmakers to know about the 78-year-old woman with a $1,200 per month pension who doesn’t qualify for SNAP and who can’t afford fresh produce. We need to let them know that access to healthy, nutritious food is a basic human right, and anything less is unacceptable.