If you’re like me, you’re breathing a sigh of relief.
The winter storms that recently wreaked havoc throughout metro Atlanta and Georgia are fading from memory as spring hints at its arrival.
For those of us caught in gridlocked traffic, stuck for hours on frozen roadways, or left in the dark when power lines snapped under the weight of frozen trees, life is returning to normal now that the nuisance of cleanup and recovery is long forgotten.
That relief is not shared by all. For the clients we serve at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the true impact of the storm is just now being felt and the need for support is, in some ways, now at its greatest. For the rest of us, it’s easy to overlook the fact that many in our community are just now feeling the full financial impact of the storms.
To understand that delayed impact and why the need is greatest in the weeks after a storm, you really have to understand the challenges our clients experience as a disaster plays out across our community.
As a winter storm approaches, our families see schools closed just like the rest of us. But, for them, schools are a place that not only educates, but also a place where kids receive breakfast and lunch.
Winter weather means public transportation becomes harder to access, making it harder to get around. That scramble to the store for bread, milk and batteries that many of us take for granted as a storm approaches becomes incredibly challenging for our clients.
Our families do not have financial reserves. Finding money for the extra food needed while their children are home from school turns into a desperate shell game.
Once the storm hits, there’s the loss of work. Many of the people we serve are working hourly jobs, so when they can’t get to work, they aren’t paid. When you are already living paycheck to paycheck and you suddenly face a 15 to 20 percent cut in pay for the month, that can mean the difference between being able to feed your kids and going hungry.
In the immediate days after a storm, when it’s fresh in everyone’s mind, there’s a tremendous amount of energy around helping people – which is a great testament to our community and to the human spirit.
But, the families we serve – families in your community - are short on pay for the month. Many have run out of public assistance and are much more desperate to find food. Families living close to the financial edge are now toppling over that edge.
And, with the surge in need, our partner agencies are seeing greater demand for food. At the food bank, we are working quickly to help fill their shelves.
That means we could use your help.
Supporting the Atlanta Community Food Bank enables us to get more food to the families that need it the most. Financial donations are a quick and effective way to speed aid because we can leverage those dollars and translate them into meals. Because of our ability to leverage your money, with the extraordinary generosity of our food donors, we can turn your dollar into $9.21 worth of food, which translates into about four meals.
There are also opportunities to volunteer with us and help inspect, sort and pack the products that we need more of now. You can volunteer here, or we have more than 600 partner agencies where you can volunteer in your own communities.
As the TV coverage and buzz and impact of the storm recedes, the energy around helping folks in need naturally recedes as well. Unfortunately, that leaves many hungry Georgians in the cold. For that reason, there couldn’t be a better time to stay engaged, and reach out to help. We are always very grateful for support, but especially when the need is at its greatest.