Mars Hill, on the far southwest side,
Long before the giveaway began at the community center on South Holt, cars were backed up for several blocks.
Jean Alsup, 69, waited nearly three hours for a 25-pound box of food.
“I get paid by Social Security and I have to have food to last for the month…I love coming down here. They’re so good and kind,” Alsup said.
Not far behind was Kayla Spurlock and her two-year-old son Dallas. They were with Spurlock’s grandmother and aunt, who had offered up her food ticket for Spurlock.
“It’s a very big deal, because that way I know I’ll have food for my son,” she said.
Wayne and Decatur Township firefighters helped load items into each car. Those items including the 25-pound box of food, a 10-pound box of personal items such as soap and deodorant and a box of dried fruit.
Lt. Doug Lathery with the Decatur Township Fire Department said he knows the need is great in the Mars Hill area.
“People don’t have jobs. There aren’t a lot of jobs available in the area,” he said. “We get EMS runs daily and sometimes, unfortunately, some are for malnutrition.”
Maggie Phipps, who founded Community Caring and Sharing in 1981, said the consequences of not having enough food to eat are many.
“That’s the reason they started free school lunches because children can’t think and function (without proper nutrition),” she said. “We have seniors coming that have eye problems because they don’t have the nutrition they need.”
She said crime is a concern too.
“It just amazes me that homes are broken into and their freezers are cleaned out. That tells me there’s hunger or they wouldn’t waste their time,” Phipps said.
Back at her apartment, just minutes from the community center, Spurlock was grateful to start filling her cabinets.
“We were starting to run low on food,” she said. “I’m happy I don’t have to worry about what to have for dinner.”
Spurlock said she can’t work or drive because of epileptic seizures that began when she was 10 years old, a condition her mom died of when Spurlock was 12.
She relies on government aid and help from her family to make ends meet. Even then, she said it’s not always enough.
“There’s nights I went without eating because I know he needs to eat before me,” she said.
Spurlock said what she received Wednesday should last at least a week.
Playing with his toys, Dallas wasn’t quite aware of his mother’s struggle to keep food on the table.
“I’m just trying to make it through each day,” Spurlock said. “Just trying to do the best I can for my son.”
Phipps said any food not picked up Wednesday would be held until Tuesday and then given away on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Feed the Children has been delivering food via its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan since 2009. The organization says it has helped more than 435,000 kids and families across the country since then.