April 03, 2023

Bringing Food Home

Peace Train by Jess Breithaupt

Working in the social services field, food insecurity in my case, has given me a deeper understanding of poverty and hardship in Lincoln County. It helps that I grew up poor, living in low-income housing with my tough single Mom, who never griped about her situation, but needed food stamps to feed us. That experience helps me relate, and I share my story often to make the people I serve feel more comfortable.

In my role at Healthy Lincoln County, I deliver food to a variety of people, from single adults to families of 8+, and I form relationships with them as time goes on. It’s hard not to, when you see someone at their most vulnerable, week after week for over a year. They share bits of their stories over time, and it’s hard not to get attached and seek out ways to help them even more.

There are many older adults on my delivery route. They keep neat houses, and reuse plastic bags and tinfoil. I know because I see the bags drying in their dish rack. No food goes to waste on their watch. They are living off their social security checks, which they’ve earned through decades of hard work, but they still can’t pay their rent, utilities, and buy food on less than a thousand dollars a month. Who could?

Food deliveries meet their immediate needs; therefore, we’re providing some relief and comfort, but I’m left feeling like we’re temporarily filling a hole in a sinking ship. We need to go upriver a little bit further, to see what resources are out there for them, and bridge that connection. Many older adults lack the technological expertise and patience to apply for heating assistance and other programs that could help them, and many younger families don’t think they qualify, so they don’t bother applying. Educating and raising awareness is the natural next step.

My colleague Will and I have been chipping away at this problem slowly, by visiting people who are unhoused or living in rough housing situations, with our van stocked with supplies. We try to meet their immediate needs first by handing out food, water, and clothing, and then we talk to them about other available resources. Kieve-Wavus Education provides the food for these runs: fresh fruit, mac and cheese, snacks, and soups. Miles Thrift store, Consigning Women, and many private donations supply the clothing. Towels, sleeping bags, and new socks are always the first to go.

It’s rewarding work, but again we’re only scratching the surface. Resource connection isn’t as simple as giving someone a phone number; you need to explain the process, help them fill out the application, and stay with them while they wait for the outcome. It can take weeks, or months. We need more resource connectors in our county.

Last week I was feeling particularly bleak about the situation, but my spirits lifted when I received a text from a man thanking us for the clothing and meals. He asked when the peace train would be coming back to his neighborhood. I recognized the Cat Stevens reference right away: “Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides the peace train. Oh, peace train take this country! Come take me home again!” We’ll be driving our peace train around Lincoln County for as long as it takes. I believe it could be something good has begun. If you want to learn more or get involved, please email me at:

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