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Hunger In the New Year

Mhari Saito

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Milk It For What it's Worth
(Mhari Saito)
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A lot of people are thinking about plans for the upcoming year this weekend. Ann Shotwell knows a lot about planning, though for her, it's more week-to-week. She runs a hot meal program three Wednesday nights a month out of Morningstar Baptist Church on Cleveland's east side. It's a low income neighborhood hit hard by foreclosures. One-hundred and fifty people or more show up for the meal, and Mrs. Shotwell gets most of the food for it by shopping at Cleveland's food bank.

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Ann Shotwell: I feed weekly, and I usually do this week for next week. That's how I have to plan it. I don't have a lot of storage space, so I don't get to store up weeks or months supply of anything. I try to keep my inventory moving. I basically do green beans, corn, potatoes, chicken and, very seldom we have enough to serve-never steaks, we don't do that-but every now and then, I can hoard up enough of beef to do a beef dinner.

John Moe: Who traditionally shows up at your Wednesday dinner?

Shotwell: I remember five or six years ago when we first started the program at my church, you could look for not really the homeless people, but the men who were not working or chose not to work, whichever. We had very few, very few teenagers because of the stigma they put on what they would call "charity." I now have mothers feeding babies and teenagers, and my biggest role right now-and I can understand why, being a senior myself and on a limited budget-we have seniors that I never would have thought would come to eat. So the need, the faces have completely changed from when I started this program five and a half years ago. It has gone the whole gamut, from men or women in the street that didn't have a home to eat out of, to now children coming in with their parents because that's basically their solid meal. And that's why I don't serve hot dogs and hamburgers.

Moe: You don't?

Shotwell: No, because they're not full. I do full-course meal. I use hot dogs and hamburgers as a backup, should I run out or not be able to give seconds, then I can pull out a hamburger or hot dog. No one leaves hungry. That's my motto with feeding.

Moe: What do you hope happens this coming year as a new administration takes office? What's your hope for the future?

Shotwell: My hope for particularly the food of people, number one, is that I would like to be able to go shopping and have enough to not have to measure it out to the people. That bothers me, to have to give somebody one piece of chicken when most people can eat two. So that's what I'm hoping that our new president is able to at least, whatever budget they're coming into, could at least look at the issue of hunger. Because the face of hunger has changed. And I've watched it change from people in the street to babies in carriages. It's just that bad.

Moe: Mrs. Ann Shotwell in Cleveland, Ohio, thank you so much.

Shotwell: Thank you!

  • Music Bridge:
    Instrumental
    Artist: Tones on Tail
    CD: Tones on Tail (Beggars)

Comments

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  • By Tangi Shotwell

    From Worthington, OH, 03/31/2010

    That's my wonderful mother-in-law.. Always helping people in any way she can. What a beautiful story.. I love you MOM!!!

    By Anthony Shotwell

    From Norwalk, CA, 01/23/2009

    What an excellent story about how one person (Mrs. Shotwell) is using her time to help others. Many people can be helped in ways that are very simple and easy, including caring about someone less fortunate than you are and reaching out to lend assistance.

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