One of the biggest challenges to fighting hunger in Montgomery County during the pandemic has been reaching people who need food most – families in sudden financial distress who are not only isolated by language, but fear accepting benefits no matter how dire their circumstances.
That’s why the Montgomery County Food Council and Business Leaders Fighting Hunger collaborated with Identity this summer to offer paid internships to two bilingual workforce development program participants. They helped the Food Council make their website and materials more accessible to Spanish speakers and helped small nonprofits and their qualifying clients access state and county benefits like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants and Children).
Nicolas says his internship was life changing. Not only did he gain the confidence to talk to strangers in a professional setting, but also it unleashed a passion to help others. By the time Nicolas called one recently divorced mother of three young children, she was desperate. He assured her that her children were eligible for WIC, and that all personal information would remain confidential. He helped her fill out the application. For Nicolas, the best gift of all was helping a mother fight for her children and put food on their table. When her four-year old got on the phone to thank him, Nicolas says he could barely keep the tears from flowing.
Thanks to two generous donors, two more Youth Opportunity Center clients are starting internships with the Food Council, continuing a project that helps a young person develop workforce skills while helping our community.