My Experience With Food Insecurity
Last updated: November 2023
Food. Love it or hate it, we must have it. My relationship with food has almost always been a complicated one.
When I was growing up, my mother struggled to provide for us. I would go through spells where sometimes I would eat very little food, and other times I would eat a lot of food. As an adult, I have had periods where I did not have to worry about food costs and other times where I did not know what my next meal would consist of or when it would be.
When a household lacks the financial resources necessary to acquire food at its household level, they are experiencing food insecurity. This is more about the ability to get food, not the ability to get a specific type of food.1
Food bank versus food pantry
While most people think the terms food bank and food pantry are interchangeable, they are actually very different.
A food bank is a non-profit organization that collects and distributes food to distribution places, like food pantries. Individual families may not receive food directly from food banks.2
A food pantry is a permanent location where individual families can acquire food. A food pantry receives their food from food banks.2
In my community, an individual may visit a food pantry every 2 weeks. The items that an individual receives typically depends on what the food pantry has in stock that day.
Mobile food pantry
In my experience, the food bank has a calendar for their mobile food pantry every month. This calendar shows the one or 2 locations where they will have a food truck. The days that the mobile food trucks are available in my county are Tuesday through Saturday.
Most of the time, the locations are at community churches. These locations tend to have the space and the volunteers needed to distribute the available food.
Does living with HIV impact you financially?
I have received food from both a food pantry and mobile food pantries, sometimes both in the same week. At the food pantry you stand in line and one-by-one provide your information and walk to the door to get the presorted bags. One the other hand, at the mobile food pantry you remain in your car. They ask you for the same information that you provide at the regular food pantry, then they load the food into your vehicle.
In my experience, you receive more food at the mobile food sites than when going to the regular food pantry. I believe this is the case because they must completely unload the truck. The mobile food pantries serve the individuals that come to that location at a specific time. On the other hand, the food pantry serves individuals who come to their location at any time.
My food this week
This week I had the energy to go to the local food bank and attend a mobile food bank.
At the food bank, I was given:
- A gallon of milk
- A pineapple
- A couple bell peppers
- A small box of carrots and sweet potatoes
- Two butternut squash
- Two spaghetti squash
- Two pounds of ground turkey
- A package of chicken pieces
- A container of croissants
They normally offer a dessert-like item, but this week they did not have anything to offer. Despite this, the items they provided this time were in good shape. Sometimes you must choose what to eat first by what is going bad! I was able to Google recipes for the butternut and spaghetti squash because I have never had those types of squash before.
At the mobile food bank, I was given:
- A gallon of milk
- A bag of carrots
- A bag of yellow squash
- 8 avocados
- A bag of celery
- Two bags of sweet potatoes
- A couple bags of grapes
- A bag of oranges
- A bag of spinach
The mobile food pantries tend to offer more produce. In my opinion, fresh produce and meats are the most expensive items. On occasion, the mobile food pantry will provide some type of meat but it is never a guarantee.
Do you think nutrition impacts your symptoms?
Receiving food from food pantries
When comparing my experiences with both the food pantry and then the mobile food pantries, I would say the mobile food pantries are better. Unfortunately, I have received produce that was already molding from the food pantry. This has not happened when receiving food from the mobile food banks.
Have you had experiences with receiving food from a food pantry or a mobile food pantry?
Have you shared your story on our site?