By: Deb Fisher
Growing up in a family that watched every penny, my mother’s arrival with bags full of groceries from one of our local churches was always a reason for celebration for my five siblings and me. I remember our excitement while helping our mother put the food away and our anticipation of trying new, mysterious treats that our parents would not usually buy. These bags, filled with new foods, brought a sense of excitement to our dinner table.
It was not until I matured that I began to understand that the food my mom brought home was from a community food pantry and that we were a family who needed assistance. Despite our limited means, my family of eight never experienced the pangs of hunger thanks to the generosity of our neighbors and programs designed to help keep families fed when faced with challenging times.
Now, as a Communications Specialist for the Williamsburg Health Foundation, I am honored to be part of an organization supporting local organizations that work to address the same food insecurity issues that touched my family. I have had eye-opening conversations with those at the helm of food pantries in the Greater Williamsburg area about our community’s growing needs. Declines in personal and grocery store contributions forced some pantries to dip into their emergency funds so families in Greater Williamsburg have access to nutritious food.
The Williamsburg Health Foundation continues to respond to this critical need. Reflecting our commitment to the health and well-being of this community, the Foundation recently awarded a total of $100,000 — $20,000 each to five local sites — FISH, Grove Christian Outreach Center, The Salvation Army, Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, and Williamsburg House of Mercy.
This is deeply personal. Thinking of our community members receiving help – I reflect on my family who sometimes chose between a meal and a medical bill, rent, or a utility payment. Staff and volunteers of these agencies, and this funding, help ensure families have a lifeline and will not have to make difficult choices alone.