York County Food Bank – York PA

Real Stories of Hunger: Erica Martinez

“Don’t Be Ashamed to Ask for Help.”

“Why am I doing this? Why am I getting help?” Each day, Erica Martinez hears questions like these rising out of frustration, anxiety, and fear from men and women both young and old, single moms and dads, and married couples with children.

Martinez, who serves as administrative support for the York County Food Bank, is the voice greeting callers to the Food Bank’s Clearinghouse food distribution appointment scheduling system. But not long ago, she was on the other end of the telephone line.

“When I first moved to Pennsylvania eight years ago, as a single mother with two children, I was on public assistance, and I was receiving food stamps. I was in need of food, so I started calling the hotline,” she says. When a part-time Clearinghouse telephone operator position became available, she applied and gained employment with the Food Bank.

“I appreciate everything the Food Bank did for me when I wasn’t working for them. Now that I work for the Food Bank, I can relate to a lot of the clients who call, and I can put myself in their situations,” Martinez adds.
Many of the callers she assists, she says, feel ashamed to call the Food Bank. But she offers words of comfort and support: “You feel like you’re letting yourself down, and you’re letting your family down. But you’re not letting them down. You’re seeking help to provide for them to eat. So that’s what I tell them. Don’t feel ashamed because you’re still doing what you have to do to make sure they have something to eat.”

As she surveys the shelves and bins holding nonperishable food products around her in the Food Bank’s food distribution warehouse, Martinez admits, “I’m still in need. I’m not all the way OK. Just because you have a job or some type of assistance, you’re not all the way OK. Don’t be ashamed to come and ask for help.”

Like Erica Martinez, you can be a source of help and hope for people facing hunger in York County. Give a generous gift of financial support to the York County Food Bank, organize a food drive in your community, or volunteer your time at the Food Bank or a community food pantry. Join the York County Food Bank in its mission to end hunger in York County.

Read another story featuring Erica’s journey.