Food Security & New Heston Friends

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It’s hard to believe that nearly two weeks have gone by since we first started in Gettysburg!

I spent most of last week editing a video created by a previous Heston intern, Devon Grote. The video explains the gap people in poverty fall into as they earn more money but lose benefits faster than they can keep up with. The problem is devastating to think about, especially when one considers that people must bridge a gap between earning $7.25/hour to making $22.25/hour in order to become completely self-sufficient, as Devon notes in the video. I changed a few things to make the focus more on food security. When someone is living in the gap, food is usually the expense that is compromised. Bills for utilities, rent or mortgage, health insurance, and other expenses are fixed costs, so people do not always have money left for food.

Last Wednesday I got the chance to speak with Nereida, a woman who had lived in the food gap. Hearing about Nereida’s experience was wonderful because it helped me to understand the reality of the food gap. I was so honored and impressed that Nereida agreed to speak to me about her personal life. She told me about her experience raising three kids as a single parent with little support from their father. She talked about being frustrated with food pantries for offering mostly canned goods, when she preferred dried foods. She explained that people who donate to food pantries or other charities do not usually think about the preferences of the people who will receive the food. I am certainly guilty of this. My family usually donates items that we do not want or need—our leftovers. Speaking with Nereida made me more aware of all the privileges I enjoy. Buying food is never an expense I have to compromise, and I can choose what I want to purchase, rather than make do with the variety I receive from a food pantry. Nereida’s story is also very inspiring. Despite their hardships, her children are mostly grown and are all doing very well.

These past couple of weeks I’ve also enjoyed getting to know all of the other interns. Chandra is the most fabulous chef in all of Gettysburg, and she doesn’t even have her own restaurant…yet. We’ve all enjoyed her amazing cooking. Maurico is funny and has a surprising love for romantic comedies. Yaou is sweet and always asks about my day when we walk home together. Melanie is the easy-going, friendly cord that ties us all together.

It’s going to be a good summer.

-Maura

Caption for photo: First Heston Family dinner! But Mo hid his face. From left to right, Nate (Chandra’s boyfriend), Chandra, Yaou, Melanie.

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