It is easy to say that employment alone can assist with food insecurities, but to do so, the basic needs must be met first.
The problem with food insecurity has increased in the past six months as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of many. Families and individuals are finding themselves making difficult decisions, often having to choose between maintaining a roof over their head or food on the table.
If you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, food is one of the most basic of physiological needs. Without it, a person’s safety, love, esteem and self-actualization needs cannot be met, and to put this into perspective, 1 out of 9 individuals are currently facing hunger in America. Within our own 27-county diocesan service area, food insecurity has increased by an average of 4%.
The solution seems simple enough: find employment and increase access to resources. For those living in chronic poverty, however, it is not that simple. How do you bridge that gap if you’ve been told no multiple times, or if you’re so hungry that you have no motivation to get up and take a shower for that interview? It is easy to say that employment alone can assist with food insecurities, but to do so, the basic needs must be met first.
So, how exactly do we do that?
Step 1: Instilling Confidence When clients come into our office, our first priority is to meet them in their present need. Though employment is the end goal (alongside the many things that having employment provides), there is often an internal poverty of hope and confidence. Our case managers aim to give this confidence back to clients by providing resources and pointing them in the right direction. We give clients access to emergency food and the clothing needed to boost confidence and feel good about themselves. We want each person to feel like they matter and have something to offer this world. This confidence builds a strong foundation and fertile ground upon which everything else can take root.
Step 2: Employment Once we’ve established the strong foundation of self-confidence, our case managers work diligently to find work for our clients and lift them to the dignity of self-reliance. The road to employment can take time, and there are many steps and processes involved before one can arrive there. Resume-building, buckling down job skills, and reviewing basic budgeting are just a few of the services provided, all of which help build up the client and provide them a launching pad for success. There are still, however, many obstacles to overcome in the pursuit of employment. Some individuals aren’t able to use a computer, gain access to the internet, or know how to use an application on the phone. Every person and situation is different and is why our case managers work with clients each step of the way, finding unique solutions for the person at hand.
Step 3: Maintaining Employment One of the most important things our clients find in our program is the importance of soft skills. While finding employment is a difficult task, maintaining employment can oftentimes be even trickier. Many struggle with consistency and the idea of being on someone else’s time. This is where our case managers reiterate the importance of being on time and showing up, keeping the right equipment and tools ready, listening, conflict resolution, and the like. Just like anything, these skills are best learned when practiced consistently. It takes determination and dedication to evolve out of the ravages of poverty, and we happily welcome clients to come through our program as many times as they deem necessary.
On average, our clients leave our program with a 162% increase in their monthly income. Last year alone, we were able to serve 816 job seekers with the skills they need to find and maintain work. From this, clients have the means to better their overall lives, keeping food on the table, seeking addiction mental health assistance, and more.
For more information, please contact Jennifer Tatro at firstname.lastname@example.org.