As the only food bank in west central Wisconsin, Feed My People distributes 150,000+ pounds of food a week and 7.5 million pounds a year to local agencies. We are a cost effective way to provide pantries, community tables, and shelters enough food so thousands of people can be helped each month.
Engaging Teens for Change
Addressing hunger issues for local children has long been and will continue to be a priority at Feed My People (FMP). 40% of those we serve are under the age of 18 and yet to lump together the needs and solutions for children and teens does not always work.
Teenagers occupy a unique space in our society. While still learning, growing, and developing, there is an emerging expectation of adult responsibilities. Specifically in low-income families, teens play a larger role in acquiring and managing food resources and yet teen hunger is an area often overlooked.
In fall of 2016, Feeding America released a nationwide study to document how teens experience food insecurity, what strategies they use to survive, and what barriers they face. This study prompted FMP to take a closer look at our strategies to serve these students by coordinating focus groups. This year FMP will continue to dig deeper to better understand how teens cope with food insecurity and how hunger assistance programming can be tailored to better serve them.
In the month of December, teens from a variety of backgrounds met with us to help us better understand their perspective. Thanks to our partnership with Blugold Beginnings, students were in a comfortable setting and able to talk openly about their feelings surrounding food insecurity, coping strategies, and local food assistance resources. Below are just a few of the experiences they shared.
Stressing about money
"My mom didn't have enough to pay rent and went to a food pantry. I was stressed because I was thinking about us not having enough money for everything."
Lacking enough to go around
"I would say if you have a lack of food, not just for teenagers, it is hard to share among your family, especially if you are very low income."
Feeling responsible for siblings
"Feeding a newborn or even up to a toddler is extremely hard and very expensive. Some teenagers feel that they don't want to eat because they feel the responsibility put on them that they need to be cheap about what they can eat."
Wanting other teens to know how hunger feels
"A lot of other students don't understand not having food at home, so it's not just adults that need education on teen hunger, but other teenagers."
Hearing the struggles
"At my house my mom doesn't have enough money to get food because it is me and my brother and his girlfriend and his baby. My mom is always complaining because she doesn't have enough money to get groceries and stuff because the money goes out in like one day."
Seeing hunger differently
"I have actually volunteered at The Community Table. We served over 200 people that day. There were so many that needed it and then there were people that I believed wouldn't need it, but I was surprised when I heard their stories."