Veterans Rely on Local Food Banks

Kosher Food BankJake* had a fairly normal life, mostly. He grew up in the Puget Sound region and moved to Seattle just in time for junior high school. At age 17, Jake joined the Army and moved off to seek adventures. After coming home, he worked in the IT department of a Seattle startup that is a household name.

Now, Jake is experiencing homelessness after developing a disability. To help make ends meet and have access to nutritious food, he visits the Polack Food Bank at Jewish Family Service.

A few years ago, in his early 30s, Jake started having memory problems that impacted his work and resulted in life without a job. He can usually remember what just happened, and he remembers things that happened a long time ago. But, the transfer between short-term and long-term memory doesn’t work like it should. It’s like having a severe case of, “What did I come into this room for?” that never goes away.

Jake lives downtown in transitional housing for homeless veterans. Once a month, he takes the bus to JFS for supplemental, nutritious groceries he couldn’t otherwise afford. Jake says he comes to JFS because the food is satisfying, and there are traditional Jewish comfort foods and Kosher items that most food banks don’t carry.

JFS support goes beyond its Food Bank, according to Susan Rogel, Director of Emergency Services. “Jake is less likely to be able to work and more than likely receives disability monies, which is usually not enough to pay for rent, utilities and food, let alone medications and other medical expenses,” Rogel said. “We are also able to help clients like Jake work toward stability by providing financial assistance for eviction prevention or utilities.”

JFS provides not only comfort but also support for Jake, and others, who need help to achieve better health and overall stability.

The interview with this client was done as part of a Polack Food Bank focus group convened to help JFS better understand how it is serving vulnerable individuals and families experiencing food insecurity. This post is adapted from a story by Laura Day and is courtesy of Food Lifeline. Food Lifeline distributed over 100,000 pounds of food to JFS in 2016.

*Name changed for client confidentiality.

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