16 May Tami’s Blog: The Realities of Feeding Our Families
The Realities of Feeding Our Families
We need more food.
Never before have I had to say that.
We rarely used to run low on food. We always had a number of generous volunteers who were quick to make meals to keep our families fed or donate the supplies we needed to keep our kitchens well-stocked.
Then, the pandemic hit. And we couldn’t have volunteers in our Houses or Family Rooms for more than two years.
For safety reasons, the only meals we could allow to be brought in during that time needed to be catered and packaged individually from local restaurants. We are so grateful for the generous people who sponsored and sent those meals — often supporting locally owned businesses, who were also hurting.
We had fewer families staying with us during that time too, so we were able to manage. But now that we are fully back up and running, our 91 guest rooms are 100% full almost every night — and we’re renting hotel rooms for families who need us when we don’t have enough space.
So far this year, we’ve hosted more than 1,200 families, with an average stay of eight nights. If we continue at this pace, we anticipate a total of about 6,000 families this year, an increase of 20% over last year’s total.
On the flip side, our volunteers have been slower to come back than our guest families have. It’s not for a lack of interest — we’ve always had a dedicated army of supporters ready to help — most of them simply aren’t aware that we’re open again to volunteers. Our programs are fully back up and running at (or above) pre-Covid levels. Unfortunately, we just haven’t gotten back to the same amount of meal support yet.
And that affects our ability to feed the children and families we serve. Add to that the increased cost of food and supplies right now; volunteer budgets don’t go as far as they used to.
*** CONTINUED ***
Increased costs have also made it tougher for our families to buy their meals at the hospital or elsewhere, meaning they’re counting even more on our help. Having a sick child is a financially devastating experience. Before childhood illness entered their lives, our families often didn’t worry about having enough to eat. Now, all of a sudden, they do.
In addition to meal groups, food donations have also been impacted. Our pantry shelves are emptier than they’ve ever been; although supporters have been generous, with the increased amount of families we’re serving, we have less of everything to go around.
Food is love! It’s what you do: you feed people who are in crisis. It’s at the heart of what we do to take care of families at RMHC-KC who have a sick child.
Each one of our 1,200 check-ins so far this year is a family. That could mean one person. Or it could mean three, or five, or more. That’s a lot of people to feed — each of whom needs sustenance in the midst of this scary and vulnerable journey.
So far this year, the increase of families served means we’re also stretched tight on our budget with things like hotels, cleaning, and transportation. But so far, we’re still saying YES. Because there’s nothing more important to us than being here for the families with sick children who need us!
If you’re wondering how you can help, I’m offering three suggestions here:
1: We need groups of volunteers to come make meals. There’s something deeply meaningful about working together to serve others, and there’s something extra special about preparing food for families in crisis. Gather friends, family, co-workers, faith groups, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or any group together to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner — you can even sign up online.
2: You can also start a collection drive at your workplace, organization, or school. We keep an updated Top 10 Needs on our website, and can always use easy grab-and-go items. Family favorites: instant mac & cheese, instant soups, Uncrustables, Lunchables, Hot Pockets, string cheese, and protein bars. (Or use this Amazon Wish List to send food or supplies to us remotely.) You can donate food directly to us, too.
3: And if you or your organization would like to make a financial donation, you can do so here. It’s easy to designate that your gift be for a special purpose, like purchasing food for our families and pantries, if you so choose.
Normally, I want this blog to be a place where I share victories and take you behind the scenes on how we keep RMHC-KC up and running. I don’t want it to be an “ask”! The reality is, right now we are facing a new challenge and our families could really use your help.
If you have any questions or want to know more about how you can help, email me personally and I’ll get back to you: [email protected]. And please know that even if you can’t help right now, your awareness and support of our mission still mean the world to us. On behalf of the thousands of families with seriously ill children that we serve, thank you for reading this and being part of this community.