MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) On some level, many Americans have experienced food insecurities during the pandemic. For many families, this is the first time they’ve experienced this insecurity, from empty grocery stores to visiting the food bank. For several, this is a way of life, living with the fear, stress, and shame of deciding each month between paying for food or rent.
Food was very much a big part of our experience (in quarantine)—the lack of food, the desire to cook new things. There was also comfort in it but also a fear of not having things.Melanie Saiz, Marketing Director, Centers for Children and Families
According to the USDA, for the 41 million people in the U.S. battling food insecurity, there are resources to help. Here in the Permian Basin, the experts at The Centers for Children and Families Kristi Edwards, executive director, and therapist and Melanie Saiz, marketing director, are here to help connect families with food and resources. They are also dedicated to assisting families in coping with the emotions attached to food insecurity.
“If you come into Centers, we are first going to be a resource for food. If it’s just one meal or the box of food, or the food bank with several meals. Then we will start worrying about the emotions connected to not having food or getting the food you want. Those emotions are going to be heavy anxiety. We are all going through things, and you’re going to be able to dig into the resiliency… We try to get families to understand that this is going to come to an end, and we are going to get our lives back to some normalcy and semblance of what had been previously, and you are going to get food.”Kristi Edwards, Executive Director and Therapist, Centers for Children and Families
One of the main messages from Edwards and Saiz is that this is happening to everyone. “If you ever go get in line at the food bank to get food, you will see the people there, the cars they are driving the way they are dressed; and you’ll see that you are not alone in this,” said Edwards.
Saiz said there is no shame in going to the food bank; they are a resource for you and are not there to judge you. It is necessary for people right now to do whatever they can to feed their families. Edwards said, “I think this has to be on of those times you have to put the tip of your pride in your back pocket. I’m not saying to get rid of it entirely. But think of the food bank and the resources available in a positive light. Gee, I am really glad I’ve got this, and I’m going to remember how to pay it forward.”
One of the struggles during this time, when the food budget is tight or having a hard time feeding your family, is nutrition. Our experts say that carbs are cheap but fill your kids up with what you can get your hands on. Things like canned vegetables are a good mix with fresh fruits and vegetables when resources are tight.
Edwards said, from the children that have talked to her who are facing food insecurity, they said if they have to skip a meal, it would be lunch. ” I am not a dietitian. I am talking about kids that tell us what they need. If they have something for breakfast and then they have an early dinner, they are better. If you have to skip something, skip the middle meal,” said Edwards.
You can not learn, you cannot focus; you can not think of anything else when you have a certain level of hunger in your brain and in your belly.Kristi Edwards, Executive Director and Therapist, Centers for Children and Families
Many of the churches in town are dedicated food pantries, Edwards said. Also, get to know the people who clean out the bruised fruits at Market Street, and you can meet them behind the store for some fresh fruits. Restaurants are also doing the same things. “Knowing where to go and what time to be there is key,” said Edwards.
“I think experiences like this we’ve had we can use this and really connect and realize that this a reality for people that is a very important lesson we can learn.”Melanie Saiz, Marketing Director, Centers for Children & Families
“People put their mental health kind of to the side for many different reasons; it’s like I don’t have time. Whenever you are going through hunger and going through fear about feeding your family, your focus becomes so narrow that you don’t think about anything else. So we never want people to have to avoid or ignore any physical or mental health just because they are hungry. So reach out, we will help you. We are connected to non-profits that will know where to send you and even help you make that phone call.”Kristi Edwards, Executive Director and Therapist, Centers for Children and Families
Along with the weekly Centers Solutions podcast, the team at Centers is also working on a special podcast called Voice from 2020. The goal of the project is to create a time capsule of stories from this challenging year. Whether funny or painful, the team is looking for submissions of recorded stories. For instructions, click here. If you have additional questions, you can email email@example.com.
Centers Solutions: COVID EDITION podcast: Food Insecurity in 2020 (Available Friday 6/19/2020)
For more information, contact Centers for Children and Families:
- Midland: 3701 Andrews Highway | Midland, TX 79703 | (432) 570-1084
- Odessa: 4241 Tanglewood Ln. | Odessa, TX 79762 | (432) 580-7006
- Website: www.CentersTX.org https://centerstx.org
Through June, Centers for Children and Families are offering the first session free for anyone who needs help. During this pandemic, they are also providing that the first two sessions be free for all Health Care Workers and First Responders fighting Covid-19.