How many Americans use food banks?

Most of us are guilty of this. We see those in need, those who are down on their luck and unconsciously conclude that “I will never be like that. THAT will never happen to ME.” We assume that our flimsy fences and shallow trenches are enough to insulate us from the tragedies that befall those around us.

And then, IT happens. You can fill in that dreaded blank with any number of misfortunes: loss of job, medical emergency, difficult pregnancy, death of a loved one, abuse in the home….the list of unfortunate prospects goes on and on. The possibilities are numerous, but the results are the same: we stand amidst our shattered dreams, realizing in a shocking dose of reality that our worst nightmare has occurred. THAT has somehow happened to US.

This shocking reality probably stole the breath and broke the heart of the nearly 37 million Americans who are estimated to have used food banks in 2009. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, one in eight Americans, many of whom have never needed to ask for help before, found themselves standing in line at a food pantry or soup kitchen asking for the handout they never thought they would need.

The article also states that 17 million U.S. households claimed to have trouble buying enough food in 2008. Feeding America reports that 76% of the adults who used a food pantry in 2009 were unemployed. Over three million of those adults lost their jobs within the past year. These millions of struggling Americans have one thing in common: IT has happened to them.

We hope that you have been one of the lucky ones, someone who has not experienced IT. If you are one who has been left untouched by the economic downturn or personal tragedy, we ask only that you look at the millions of struggling Americans and think, “THAT could happen to ME.”

With this new mindset, we know that bravely reaching out to help a neighbor in need will not seem like such a far-fetched idea.