September 18, 2007
Tifton -- It's rather hard to believe that in a country with so many all-you-can-eat restaurants and the abundance of food produced that people go hungry. They do everyday.
A USDA study finds that Georgia ranks above the national average with the number of people who have had difficulty providing enough food for their families.
Sometimes the joy and happiness people desire waits patiently behind the side door of life.
"I wished I had found out about it sooner," says Suzanne Barry, as she visits with a fellow Meal on Wheels volunteer at the First Methodist Church's activity center.
For the past four years she has volunteered every other week to make special delivers. If it was left up to the energetic volunteer, she would deliver meals everyday and on weekends, but other people want to make their contributions.
Suzanne finds driving about 10 miles in the mornings makes quite a difference in her life. "It's the highlight of my day. The rest of the day I have a positive attitude," says Suzanne as she starts her delivery route number five.
Using less than a gallon of gas, and spending an hour a day as a special delivery person for Meals on Wheels, on a mission that helps satisfy an inner craving.
She stops at one home, gets a Styrofoam box of food out of a green plastic carrier and knocks on the door.
"Miss Allie May," shouts Suzanne, after rapping on the door four times.
"Come on in sweetie," shouts Allie Mae Williams in a sweet voice.
Suzanne delivers food to hungry people who can't afford it or can't cook, people often forgotten by others, and it means more than just satisfying hunger pangs.
"Someone cares for me to bring me something to eat, because I can't get around and cook my own food," says Ms. Williams, who keeps a phone close-by, and an air conditioner running.
It looks as if she has difficulty walking even a short distance.
"Be sweet," says Ms. Williams as she shakes Suzanne's hand before she leaves and where Suzanne promises to bring fish her husband, Bert, caught the next time she visits.
In less than a half-hour, she delivers hot meals to five homes of people for one reason or another rely on the generosity of others to feed them.
But why does Suzanne devote so much time and energy to help hungry people? Part of the reason goes back to a time when she didn't have food.
A hurricane-- she doesn't remember its name-- struck the Gulf coast. When the winds calmed down and the blue skies returned, she found herself stranded. For three days she had no food, and that left a lasting impression.
It helps to explain her passion for making sure people have enough to eat.
The latest study by USDA titled: Household Food Security in the United States, 2005 shows 5.1% of Georgia's households, the same percentage for Texas and Utah, had difficulty providing enough food for their family members. Only New Mexico with 5.7% and South Carolina with 6.3% had higher percentages.
"I'm absolutely amazed at the number of people who don't have enough to eat, or [un]able to cook for themselves," says Suzanne who finds that her soul gets fed with every delivery she makes.
"I've met so many wonderful friends through this. Everyone has been so nice," says Suzanne, who answers the prayers of the hungry.
"Kind father, I do thank you for what I'm about to receive, in Jesus name, Amen," are the words of a client's prayer, before she takes of bite of macaroni and cheese delivered by Suzanne.
As for her future plans, "I plan to do this for the rest of my life," says Suzanne as she leaves the modest, well-kept home.
Delivering food for the soul.