By Scott Marshall | Director of Development at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
I grew up in hunger and didn’t even know it. Crazy to think about, right? Who doesn’t know if they are hungry? When you have a mom who cares and programs that help, it’s surprisingly easy.
I grew up with a younger brother in the 80’s in a ranch house in Greenfield on the south side. We saw our dad on weekends and he did what he could, but we lived with our mother for the most part. If you asked me then, I would have told you I was no different than any other kid at Maple Grove elementary school. I loved playing football, hated getting up early to go to school, and couldn’t wait for Saturday mornings when I could eat cereal and watch hours of cartoons. For some reason, I didn’t mind getting up early on Saturdays… Some things about our family was different but I didn’t know it. For example, we went back to school shopping at St. Vincent de Paul. And instead of Nikes, I was always rocking Pro Wings. And we ate a LOT of chicken and rice at dinnertime.
When I look back, one thing I don’t remember is being hungry. Why? I ate free school lunches. We’d go to church once a week, help pack bags of food and get to take home TWO bags when we left! And I actually liked large blocks of cheese we’d get every month… And of course, the aforementioned chicken and rice dinners. I was never actually hungry. I was in my 20’s when I put together that I grew up in a house that was food insecure.
When I was old enough to look back and process what my mother was doing to keep my brother and I fed, and honestly, shielded from the reality of our economic situation, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My mother used every resource she had available to take care of us and thanks to her and the programs like the ones Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is a part of and supports, I had a happy, healthy, and normal childhood.
When I’m having a tough day, I think of other mothers out there in the same situation for a reality check. Those families are why I know my job is important and why I love what I do.