Why a stranger matters from annual Utah State University Eastern Bread and Soup Nights Castle Country Radio

Lorianne Jones (not her real name) is a single woman that is 69 years old. She worked most of her life in low paying service jobs, raised three kids and was able to save literally nothing in her lifetime. In the last year, she took on raising three of her grandchildren because her son went to prison and their mother disappeared into the drug world. Lorianne struggles to make ends meet; her social security is only $890 per month and she gets a total of $547 from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rent on her small house is $400 per month. Her utilities amount to $200 per month. Those include electricity, gas and water.

Lorianne is a regular at her local food bank. She tries to get there each week in her old car and pick up food to help out. It used to be that she could get so much of what she needed, but things have changed.

Now when she picks up once a week there is often only enough food for three or four days. With the food stamps, she is able to make it stretch, but the nutrition her grandkids get is not adequate. They never get to eat much fresh fruit or vegetables. Meat costs so much at the store that she makes one pound of hamburger last three days.

As the population grows older the number of elderly people in the community is going up and many do not have 401Ks, savings or means other than social security for support. A trip to the doctor, or worse, the hospital, can wipe out anything they have been able to save. And as people get older, those kinds of things happen more often. For these people, there is no eating out, no vacations or trips, not even cable television or the internet.

But little things can also change the scenario that plagues Lorianne. She could get enough for her family to eat from week to week if the food bank had more resources. People really do donate to the food bank, particularly during the holidays. But those donations go out fast and in January when all the Christmas lights have come down the shelves get pretty thin. The summer is also a lean time despite food drives by the Boy Scouts, the United States Postal Service and many schools that help out. Donations are always needed.

By attending Bread and Soup night on the campus of USU Eastern in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center each fall community members can help even more. They will eat and pay for bread and soup and the money they spend will go to the Carbon County Food Bank. It is a way to get dinner and have the money a person pays go to help these strangers. The food bank donation each year from the university that is generated by this event is key to putting food on the shelves of the pantry.

“When the scouts would knock on my door during a food drive, I had always been one of those people who simply ran to my pantry to pull out last year’s can of artichoke hearts from a failed recipe, or threw in my can of tomato soup just to participate,” said Carrie Icard who is an English professor at USU Eastern and also runs the Bread and Soup Night there. “I understand now, after 20 years of doing Bread ‘N Soup Night, that what’s going on in our community requires much more consideration than that. Because of what we’ve been doing at the university, I can feel that I made a greater effort to serve, but more importantly, also gave others a chance to do the same.”