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‘Don’t be proud, there is help’: Breaking the stereotypes behind food insecurity

“I grew up working since I was 15. I never needed assistance, and here I was last year, needing it,” said Lori McCommas.

The mother of two recently found herself in a financial bind when her 25-year marriage ended abruptly, and health issues made it impossible for her to work.

When it comes to needing help with food security, many assume the person may be homeless. But that’s a stereotype ABC-7 is looking to break.

The faces of food insecurity may surprise you. It could be your neighbor, your classmate, a college student, or the person in front of you in the line at the store.

Many times, these are people who never dreamed they’d be in such a situation.

“He left with no warning, abandoned me,” McCommas told ABC-7 about her former husband. “School supplies, clothing, eating, activities, sports, necessities, food it adds up. And it was only me supporting her,” she said of her daughter.

On top of all this, McCommas’ health care bills kept piling up while medical issues kept her out of the workforce.

McCommas admits it was hard to ask for help at first. “I was very prideful, very private to where I was like I don’t need it, I don’t want it, I don’t want anybody knowing my business.”

While McCommas didn’t qualify for many programs, a friend told her about El Pasoans Fighting Hunger – El Paso’s only food bank. After reaching out, McCommas received an emergency food box, and ongoing help.

Brianna Hernadez is the Director of Marketing for El Pasoans Fighting Hunger. “The food pantries are there for your neighbors, your co-workers, not just a homeless person or someone on the street,” said Hernandez. “It’s for everyday difficulties and challenges that occur”.

McCommas is getting back on her feet and is grateful to have enough to eat today. Although she may not have much to give monetarily, she does give her time by volunteering with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.

She also advises those who need assistance to reach out. “There is help for you”, she adds.

ABC-7 KVIA is partnering with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, Albertsons, Viva Autogroup, Sun City ER and Mattress Firm to relaunch the ‘All about the Food’ campaign to help feed families and make sure they have warm meals as the holiday season approaches.

The campaign needs the community to make it a success.

You can donate any non-perishable items or money at designated drop off locations, including all Albertsons locations in El Paso and Las Cruces, Sun City ER, Viva Auto Group dealerships and all Mattress Firm locations.

One in four children in El Paso is food insecure, meaning they don’t know when or where they will get their next meal.

Factors behind the alarming statistic include lack of income in households, underemployment or unemployment. Many times, the economic situation leaves parents choosing between putting food on the table or paying bills.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger is the only food bank in El Paso that also serves as a distribution center for more than 120 food pantries in the region.

The organization serves an estimated 90,000 households with 65,000 of those households including children.

The campaign runs from November 1 through December 14.

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