Over the last year, as the world fought through and began recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, many families suffered from financial hardships leaving them food insecure and in need of support. Since last year, Filling in the Blanks has doubled the amount of school districts we serve to fight the resulting hunger pandemic. Today, we are spotlighting a few of the amazing fathers of Filling in the Blanks and how our work has impacted their lives.
Michael Johnson of Old Greenwich, CT has been a board member at Filling in the Blanks for the past four years and is a father of three young adult children, ages 20-26. After learning about Filling in the Blanks and its mission from founders Tina Kramer and Shawnee Knight, Michael decided he had to become involved:
“It was like when Harry met Sally saying ‘you had me at hello,’” he explained. “The mission speaks to almost any human being. For me, personally, and for my family as a whole, we are blessed in that we have the ability to put food on the table every day and live by the motto ‘if you can you should’. Believing in this, we as a family have been involved in packing events, golf events, fundraising events and almost anything that is needed for fighting food insecurity. It is a blessing for me to see my kids want to be involved in helping others. You know as a father, a parent, you have done well when your kids want to help others.”
When asked what fighting child hunger means to him as a father, Michael replied that “as a father, I feel for the parents who have young kids that we serve who can’t provide for their families the simple necessities of food. That drives me to give more.”
Unfortunately, many existing inequalities have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and recovery is not happening at the same pace for all. According to recent data from TracktheRecovery.org, nationally, low income workers are still experiencing about 20x higher unemployment than high and mid income workers. This has left many families still unable to afford food, and food insecurity has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels just yet. Our Weekend Meal Program helps fill in these blanks of food access, which drives Michael’s motivation to serve on the FITB board:
“There are so many organizations one can give to where you really don’t see the impact the money has that you have given. Here at FITB, you see an immediate impact on the kids and families we serve. As a father and a human being who cares, this drives me to do a little bit more. The pandemic has put the vast majority of the at-risk members of our communities out of work. The food packages we pack each week and deliver are life-saving — they may in fact be the only meal they get. To me, that is moving. I believe in the mission. I believe in the people executing the mission. I believe that the people we serve are truly appreciative of the work the team does and welcome our weekly meal packages.”
One father from Bedford Hills Elementary School in Bedford Hills, NY shared his appreciation for Filling in the Blanks’ support of his family as they recover from financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, I had very little work and we used all our money to pay the rent,” he explained. “Sometimes, we would have to borrow money. There were many times when we only had the Filling in the Blanks food for our children to eat, especially since the supermarket is not near our home. Our children are so happy when they bring home the bag. They immediately put the food away and the milk in the refrigerator. They love to share the food with their little brother. They love the pasta, snacks, and enjoy the cereal with milk in the mornings. We are very grateful to Filling in the Blanks.”
Another father from Mt. Kisco Elementary School in Mt Kisco, NY echoed his sentiments:
“The Filling in the Blanks program has been very favorable to my family. My son loves the pasta and especially the fruit cocktail. He loves getting the bag of groceries every week. The program has been a great help because I am a single father and during the pandemic I lost my job. Thanks to Filling in the Blanks for helping my family!”
We appreciate all of the fathers in our Filling in the Blanks family, from the fathers to support to the fathers who support us in the fight against child hunger. If you would like to make a donation on behalf of a father in your life, visit our donation page here. Thank you!