Is This News Good or Bad or Maybe Both?

It was two days before Thanksgiving, almost time for the pantry to close. The volunteers had served 39 families already that day, with one lone client still shopping. So it was quiet and a good time to talk to a reporter looking for a story.

The first question is always “How many people has Loaves & Fishes fed this year?” Immediately followed by “How does that compare to last year?”

The answer, as they say, is complicated. We are delighted that we have served fewer people in 2014 than 2013. We saw double digit increases for 5 years and couldn’t have sustained that growth much longer. Now we are down to pre-recession numbers. We project providing a week’s supply of nutritionally balanced food to around 80,000 people in Mecklenburg County by year’s end.

However, the point I repeatedly make is this – great that the need is less, but 80,000 hungry people in Mecklenburg County? Half of that 80,000 are children? What a scandal for our community. Enough people to fill every seat in Panthers Stadium with 5,000 standing on the field!

We get so caught up in numbers – trending up or trending down, that we completely lose sight of the fact that each of those 80,000 people is a real person, adult or child, who doesn’t worry about what to have for supper tonight. They worry about having any supper, or lunch, or breakfast at all.

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