Hope Will Help Us Through This
James Stockdale, a veteran of the Vietnam War who spent seven years as a prisoner of war, attributed his survival to a simple ideal: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Vice Admiral Stockdale’s ability to blend hard pragmatism with a steadfast hope that his future would be different, today is written about in books such as Jim Collins’ Good to Great, studied by scholars and passed on to us as the “Stockdale Paradox.” His philosophy seems appropriate as we look at August with a reality that is very different that most of us hoped it would look back in March or April.
Many of us across the nation hoped COVID-19 would be in the rearview mirror, summer vacations would be making up for lost time spent quarantined in our homes, and children would anxiously be awaiting returning to classrooms with their friends, returning to some resemblance of life before this pandemic began.
Sadly, this is not our reality – right now. And while we must not lose our hope and faith that there will come a day when COVID is closer to our rearview mirrors, we need to find a way to continue to working together, to truly support one another – oftentimes in new ways – so we can emerge stronger together as a result of this ordeal.
At the St. Louis Area Foodbank, we have seen the strength, resilience, and commitment of so many people supporting one another during this pandemic. You helped us not only meet our goal to distribute 10 million meals between March 16 and June 30 – you helped us blow it out of the water. We ended up distributing 16,795,542 meals across our 26-county service territory! We have added 70 NEW community partners – groups who have answered the call to serve by helping distribute food through more than 550 mobile distribution events. We have received over 3 million pounds of produce, dairy, and meat through the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program to help meet the 40 percent increase in need we are seeing across our region. Of that, 69 percent of people have reported they were coming to one of our incredible partners, seeking food assistance for the very first time.
This commitment – this dedication – this spirit – has helped provide food and hope to countless families, children, and seniors since March – and for this, we offer our sincere and heartfelt gratitude. However, this pandemic is still here. Neighbors are still hurting. New neighbors who perhaps had found ways to make it through before are now struggling for the first time due to job losses and facing uncertainties as they look to figure out how to work and have children home from school, many too young to look after themselves.
Like many of you, I hoped that this August update would talk about moving forward post-pandemic and all the ways we were going to get back to business before this crisis hit. Yet here we are, confronting the brutal facts of our reality. We are continuing to find strategies and solutions that strengthen our community, while also facing the fact that support we have received in the past is ending, while the need for food and other critical supplies is not.
Like Vice Admiral James Stockdale, we at the St. Louis Area Foodbank strongly believe that together we will all prevail in the end. We are encouraged daily by our volunteers, our donors, and our partner agencies on the front lines serving those in need. So today the message is two-fold. For those who have stepped up by volunteering, donating money, or organizing food drives – we thank you. Sincerely. Our hope is that if or when you are able, you will consider continuing to support the mission and efforts of St. Louis Area Foodbank to build stronger communities by empowering people with food and hope. For those who are struggling today or will struggle on another day in the future – we are here for you … just as we always have been and will continue to be. Let that be your peace, assurance and hope during these difficult times – knowing that we are truly all in this together – and never lose faith that we will prevail in the end.