Unexpected Faces of Poverty

Facing Poverty in Muncie, Indiana, Poverty

As I lifted 1,176 jugs of apple cider into vehicles on Thursday morning, my heart was feeling two opposing emotions: I was elated that I was able to give food to these families in the Second Harvest tailgating line, but, in opposition,my heart broke when I looked at the long line of cars that seemed to last forever. How can there be so many people in need of food? And these were probably only a small portion of those in Muncie who are struggling financially.

Furthermore, I was unaware that I had a preconceived notion about the individuals who would come to the food distribution. When I saw those who actually did come to the food distribution, I realized that I had assumed and misjudged. I thought that many of the individuals who were going to receive food were going to be African-American. I only saw approximately 30 African-Americans.

This really opened my eyes and showed me that poverty does, in fact,affect everyone. I was shocked to see many individuals in cars that looked quite expensive and nice. If I saw them on the street, I never would have surmised that they would be in a line to receive food handouts.

It was disheartening to notice how a large portion of individuals in the food distribution line had handicap license plates, or it was apparent that they had serious health issues. It is critical that these individuals receive proper nutrition. I do not think that I had ever thought much about poverty affecting the elderly and those with health issues. Previously, I had an idea of what a person in poverty looked like. After my time at the food distribution, I realized that I had a plethora of misconceptions.

It was disheartening to face reality and realize that there were thousands in Muncie who live in poverty. I am grateful that I learned about the misconceptions I held. Even now, my mind is racing with thoughts such as “What else can I do?” “What am I going to do about it?”

I am going to keep seeking and searching for answers to those questions. One thing I do know is this: It thrilled my heart to lift each and every one of those 1,176 jugs of apple cider. I am thankful that I could serve someone in that way.

— By Kayla Conrad

Ball State University Student

Volunteer for Second Harvest Food Bank

This story originally appeared in Facing Poverty, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by TEAMwork for Quality Living in Muncie, Indiana.

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