Stories From the National Hunger Hotline: Taking Care of Each Other

The National Hunger Hotline (NHH), a service of WhyHunger’s National Hunger Clearinghouse, provides real-time referrals for people in need across the U.S. to emergency food and assistance programs. Receiving an average of 700 calls per month, the NHH is a portal to information, assistance, and resources, ultimately empowering families and individuals to meet their vital needs including fresh, healthy food. In Stories from the Hotline, we share some of the experiences of callers and our efforts to support them.

Living on the outskirts of the post-industrial city of Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Mary (not her real name) , decided to take a stand against injustice and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. A concerned citizen and mother of two small children, Ms. Mary contacted the National Hunger Hotline seeking information about the BackPack Program. The BackPack Program provides weekend food for children who may be at risk of going hungry. Ms. Mary informed the Hotline advocate that in her children’s school there are at least 12 kids who she suspects are homeless and without consistent meals. She explained that her children came home from school and stated that there were children in their class who did not have food and lived in motels.

Ms. Mary decided to ask the school if there was any type of support for the children, stating that “if we know about these 12 kids, how many more are there?” Ms. Mary continued to share her story with the Hotline advocate, explaining that due to a teacher shortage the school had decided to end their BackPack program. The Hotline advocate passed on the information about the BackPack Program to Ms.Mary along with information on the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that provides after school snacks and meals to children. The advocate also shared information about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or snacks to children in the local community. Ms. Mary was thankful for the information and affirmed that she would work with the school administration to improve the programs available at the school.

The National Hunger Hotline 1-866-3 HUNGRY and 1-877-8 HAMBRE (1-866-348-6479 and 1-877-842-6273) refers people in need of emergency food assistance to food pantries, government programs, and model grassroots organizations that work to improve access to healthy, nutritious food, and build self-reliance. Help is available on Monday through Friday from 9am-6pm EST. Hablamos español. The Hotline is funded in part by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

This article originally appeared in our monthly e-newsletter, the Clearinghouse Connection, which facilitates the exchange of information, resources and ideas among emergency food providers. To subscribe, email NHC.

India Rodgers