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.
Sarah Greenberg is the Health Programming and Pantry Coordinator at EZRA Multi-Service Center, a Food Depository member agency in Uptown.
A woman who regularly comes to EZRA recently told me her story. She had been doing fine financially, until she was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Paying for medical bills drained her savings and she quickly realized she did not have enough money for food every week. In search of a solution, she came to EZRA. She started receiving food at the pantry and our Uptown Cafe program and she now has enough food while receiving treatment and paying bills. Hers is a story of success and overcoming obstacles. It’s also a story of how anyone can fall on hard times and need emergency food assistance.
Everyone has a story. I’m in Washington at the Anti-Hunger Policy Conference because I want to learn the best ways to tell those client stories to lawmakers so that they can truly understand the kind of need we see in our community every day. Facts and figures are certainly important, but putting a human face on hunger is what can really move people and can really make a difference.
Similarly, I want to learn how to get clients more involved with advocacy efforts. Client stories make an impact, but having a client tell his or her own story is even more moving. Our voice is strongest when we are united as a community. When we unite and tell the stories of those we serve, we can begin to create a community in which everyone has access to the food that they need.