Feeding Hope: A Story From Coulee City

“I need some food, so I’m comin’!”  That’s what a man who attended the Coulee City Mobile Market said when asked why he decided to come to the event.  He heard about it that morning at the bank, which hosted the event.  The timing was perfect too, since he was experiencing a “low food month”—his third in a row.

The man has used the Mobile Market twice before, but several years ago.  He said he prefers to live off his own income—social security—rather than receiving additional food assistance from the government or places like food pantries.  He also has been diagnosed with PTSD and residual schizophrenia, which makes it hard for him to reach out to others when he needs help.

A resident of the low-income apartments in Coulee City, the man considers himself a “J.O.A.T”—jack of all trades.  He’s worked several different kinds of jobs throughout his life.  His favorite?  A lumper—someone who loads and unloads trucks.  At one time he worked in Spokane making $8.00 an hour, but he still had to dig through trashcans to find food; his wage just wasn’t enough to give him what he needed.

Now retired, he faces the same challenge: hunger.  “It hurts right there,” he said, pointing to his abdomen with both hands.  “Stomach pains … You can feel your stomach growling… it’s scary.”

But hunger doesn’t just lead to physical pain; it can bring on stress, too. “Food shortage and hunger does cause stress.  And it causes fear.” It’s scary for the man to wonder what will happen if he can’t afford food.  “Am I going to be here tomorrow?  What am I going to do?  What am I going to do?”  These are thoughts the man has when his food supply is low.

During these times, he gets creative with the food he makes.  He loves to cook but often doesn’t have much fresh food.  “I cook anything and everything I can get my hands on that’s cookable.”  He regularly turns to Ramen for his meals.  In fact, he’s become a master Ramen chef—coming up with flavor combinations that use anything from cayenne pepper to a packet of hot chocolate mix.

But no need for Ramen after the Mobile Market.  The man left with lots of food to cook at home, including meat and a variety of fresh produce.  He was especially excited to get some spaghetti squash he had spotted before the distribution began.

When asked what he would say to people considering donating or volunteering at Second Harvest, the man said, “Please do because it helps people.  It does.  It helps people out.  And it helps me.  Without their help, I would have stomach pains again.”

Learn how you can help put food in the stomachs of people like this man today.