NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Hunger sometimes goes unnoticed, but it’s a real, everyday problem.
Families struggling to make ends meet sometimes have to decide what their money will go toward – rent, medicine, gas or food. The decision is one many people have to make each day and it’s one that can come suddenly.
James Gill with the Sumner County Food Bank says he will never forget the night he first met a family in need of food.
“He said, ‘I am not asking for myself, or my wife, but my kids are hungry, could you help us?’ I took them to a local restaurant and fed them,” said Gill.
Forty six years later and Gill is still keeping food on the table for those that need a little help. He has spent eight of those years as the executive director at the Sumner County Food Bank.
“We may be here a half day or we may be here at 10 at night, but we are going to do what is necessary to meet the needs of all these folks,” said Gill.
Hunger is an issue that affects millions of people worldwide and many of the hardest hit areas are closer than you might think.
“They can’t go to the refrigerator, they can’t make a sandwich, they can’t find cheese and crackers so they just do without,” said Gill.
The Sumner County Food Bank gives out between 35 and 50,000 pounds of food each month. November and December see the most volume distributed.
“We will give them enough food for 10 days, three meals a day,” said Gill. “Most people who get the help and get it on the first of the month and by the third week of the month if they have children they are out of food.”
Many times hunger strikes without warning and anyone can be affected. It is a situation Gill has seen many times over the years.
“He and his wife lost their jobs,” said Gill as he talked about a recent client. “He was making $68,000 a year and she was making $50,000.”
Circumstances vary, from lost jobs, to single parents not making enough money to support a family, but they all face a critical decision at times.
“They have to make a decision of am I going to get this meal or am I going to take this medicine today?,” said Gill. “They have to make that decision and food is a basic requirement, but is it do I buy food or pay my utility bill?”
Gill said if he can help just a little bit so those in need can afford to pay that rent, or buy the medicine they need without worrying about eating then it is a good day.
“I am proud to say that no family in Sumner County can say we have to go without food on our table three times a day,” said Gill.
Gill says many of the families and people they help end up getting back on their feet and then volunteer to help others.