It’s easy to care about a hungry child. But what about her mom and dad? How compassionate are we toward the parents, especially if their family’s plight is the result of their own, poor choices?

It’s a tough question. We Americans are unique in the world for the measure of our philanthropy, but we also prize individual responsibility and self-sufficiency. We understand when people are trying hard but appear down their luck, yet our compassion can fall short when they seem to bring misfortune upon themselves.

A core belief at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is that we are called to serve people in need without judgment.

Whatever problems our neighbors may have, whatever reasons they have for seeking food, no matter what mistakes they have made, we are compelled to help. We recognize that food comes first. And that someone who
is hungry isn’t going to become a better parent, a better worker, or a better citizen on an empty stomach.

Through empathy we suspend judgment, we connect with people who are truly hurting, and – in the process – we experience a deeper sense of purpose and value. Giving is humanizing. It makes us feel more whole.

Through your empathy and support of the Food Bank, you have connected with complete strangers through a simple and timeless way – by sharing a meal. I hope that experience is as nurturing for you as it is for those we serve.

Thank you.

Michael McKee, CEO

This letter first appeared in the winter 2018 edition of Harvest