Guest blog: Kat Foronda perspective on hunger … next steps

December 2, 2011

Kat Foronda, a college student in Nevada has been helping Three Square Food Bank and Feeding America get the word out about hunger (and has previously been featured on this blog). We have invited her to write some guest blog posts about hunger in America. This is the second of a series of posts she has written and this post is a continuation of her previous post where she shared her experiences with hunger.

Eventually, I became a teenager. I also realized that hating my mom for being so irrationally angry all the time was unfair of me. Financial problems certainly can do a number on someone’s mental health, and surely it took a toll on my mom She was that way was because she struggled a lot to provide my brother and me shelter and the little bit of food we did have.

My attitude changed, too. When people talked about silly, meaningless things, I left them alone. In fact, I would occasionally engage in conversation, pretending to be somewhat interested in what they had to say. I also developed a “Golden Rule” mentality, treating others the way I would like to be treated. I was very nice, very helpful, and my compassion was unconditional. I loved those who clearly did not like me, and never expected anything in return for my generosity. Reading the Bible in my spare time helped me develop this mentality.

Did I have a role model that gave me advice on how to treat others and how I can live life more happily? No. I developed these morals and philosophies myself, and they actually did make me a much happier person. So during adolescence and to this day I always try to remain happy, never upset, and always willing to help everyone, even though no one treated me like that.

I also saw to it that no one knew about my food-insecurity issues. I wanted people to feel comfortable with sharing their problems with me and asking me for help. I felt that no one would trust me to help them if I had problems of my own, so I decided to keep my personal problems to myself so that I could give myself  to others.

What did suck was having to sit with friends that were eating in front of me, and telling them that I had already eaten because I couldn’t afford to get myself something to eat. That was torturous. The pain I felt in my stomach from being surrounded by so much food and having to smell all of it killed me on the inside, but what was even more so difficult was putting on a smile despite the fact that my stomach was turning inside out.

My senior year of high school, I was enrolled in a Fellows Academy class for failing an English class my freshman year. I was really upset (since I also happened to be taking AP English Literature, and so felt that it was obvious that I knew elementary English), but it turned out to be the thing that turned my life around. It provided us with a WeekEND Hunger program that distributed food bags for families to make it through the weekend, and it actually helped a lot! I always looked forward to getting the food, and I thought about the other struggling kids at my school. There were 30 kids in our class getting support. My goal became to figure out a way for the support to reach the rest of the more than 3000 kids at our school.

Through the Fellows Academy program, I was able to make my vision come to life through our “Resource Center,” in which kids were able to get college/career advice, clothing vouchers, and food! In the less than two months,, we were able to serve over 300 kids10 times more than the amount of kids we were serving through the class alone. The program eventually branched off into a couple of other high schools in Las Vegas, and for my work I was recognized nationally as one of the 10 youth superstars by receiving the Jefferson Award, which has been called the “Nobel Prize” for public service.

Eventually, I found my way to college. I now have three jobs to afford my education and feed myself, and things are going really well. I’m majoring in Physics, and am hoping to give back to the global community through my scientific findings. I would not be where I am today without the generosity of nonprofit organizations that helped me when I needed help the most.

I certainly wouldn’t have sought the help myself, and am eternally grateful for people who care enough for their community to donate to programs that help struggling kids. I wish I could personally thank them myself. They probably have no idea to the extent which they are helping people. They are the true stars in this world, along with other people that do what they can to help those that are less fortunate than they are.

Three Square Food Bank, the Feeding America memberthat fed me my senior year in high school, also deserves much praise. It’s interesting to see how the work that goes on in the Feeding America network affects a young Hispanic girl that was struggling all the way over in Las Vegas.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot Feeding America’s wonderful staff, and they work so much for people like me to have hope for the future. Feeding America, on behalf of the struggling families that you help provide food to, thank you for all that you do.

Next, Kat will give her perspective on Thanksgiving.

Posted by Dan Michel on December 2, 2011 at 12:59 PM in Living with Hunger
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