Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

A Letter To The Hungry

I’ll just check one more time. Maybe there’s something I missed the first time around….

No, the cupboard’s empty. What am I going to do? There was nothing yesterday either. Or the day before that.

I can’t stand this pain inside any longer. Drinking lots of water isn’t helping. I need help. What if they say I don’t deserve help?  Must try. Surely someone cares?

Wrap up warm, it’s cold out there. At least it’s not raining today.

Feel so lightheaded walking, but got no money for bus fare. Look at all the lucky so-and-so’s on the bus. They don’t know what it’s like to be me.

Here’s the office. Deep breath. Stand in line. Endless waiting. Legs are trembling. That kiddy’s got a bag of sweets. My mouth’s watering. Look away. Can’t snatch from a child. My eyes are burning. I can’t stand this. I’m nothing…

Number 374. That’s me.

‘I’ve got no money.’

‘It’s not my fault I got sanctioned. I was late for my appointment because the bus didn’t turn up. Now my money’s stopped because I’ve been sanctioned. There’s no food in the house. I haven’t eaten in three days.’

‘A referral form? Thank you so much.’

I walk across the city centre, clutching a referral form. Will this church really help?

Oh, here it is.

Deep breath, here goes.

I walk in, head down, and hold out my form to the smiling person on the desk.

‘Hello! And your name is… Angela. Hi Angela, this is Christine. If you’d like to follow her inside, she’ll give you a cup of tea while we make up your food parcel.’

I risk a glance at Christine. She has a friendly smile on her face and she’s looking right at me.

‘Hi Angela. Welcome! Come and have a seat. Would you like tea or coffee? And we have toast if you’d like it.’

I can see other people sitting at small white tables eating toast and drinking from mugs, chatting with helpers wearing name badges. It’s warm in here and the smell of toast is making my mouth fill with water. I swallow hard.

‘Tea please.’ I whisper.

‘And how many slices of toast? We’ve got strawberry jam.’

Christine is smiling at me.

‘Two please.’

Before I know it, I’m sat at a table eating and drinking. I’m warm. Christine is so nice and friendly that I find myself pouring out everything that’s been crowding in on me for weeks: losing my job because of cancer, having my gas cut off, not being able to afford having the electric heater on, getting sanctioned, having no food in the cupboards. I cry, but that’s okay. Christine is ready with some tissues.

Before I go, she offers to pray with me. I nod. I need all the help I can get. She lays a hand on my arm and tells God about me, asking Him to help me. She talks to Him like He’s her Dad. It’s nice.

When I leave, I have a big bag full of food in my hand and a comfortable, solid sort of feeling in my stomach. The pain has gone. I feel like I’ve made a friend. I’m not hungry any more.

5 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you joined us today, Mandy. This post perfectly represents the truth of what so many in this country are facing – thanking you for putting it into words. Thank you for linking up and for sharing this with us

  2. Hi Mandy, thanks for joining us this week. What a wonderful post, so beautifully written, and I second what Ruth says, such truth in these hard times.
    It’s lovely to have you linking up with us, hope to see you here again 🙂 x

    • Mandy

      20/02/2014 at 11:57 am

      Thanks Sabrina and Ruth – looking forward to linking up again. Thanks for your inspiration!

  3. Oh, my goodness, I found myself filling up reading this. How can it be in the twenty-first century that people can go without food for three days?
    thank you for this. Glad you joined up.

    • Mandy

      24/02/2014 at 11:20 am

      Sadly, we see this fairly regularly Helen. People are often so ashamed to be needing a food bank that they leave it until they’re desperate to seek help. It’s very sad and completely wrong.

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