Recent grad with full-time job fights stigma of asking for help with hunger

Hunger Action Month

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – NBC4 is partnering with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective to raise awareness about hunger in our community.

The story of a recent college graduate who helps others battle food insecurity highlights how far hunger can reach.

Clara DeHart helps recipients find resources to access food. She often directs people to SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“People have this very stereotypical image of ‘this is what a SNAP recipient looks like,’” said DeHart. “You know, people characterize them, they’re probably lazy, they just don’t want to work, all of that type of stuff.”

Dehart believes, in most cases, people just need help.

“I’ve encountered all types of people through my work with the food bank that need help and then look at me, I’m working 40 hours a week, serving my community,” said DeHart.

DeHart, 23, graduated from college last year and works with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective through her position with AmeriCorps.

“AmeriCorps is great, I really enjoy what I’m doing, but the living stipend is not a lot,” said DeHart. “So, like with everything, paying rent, paying for gas, paying for doctor’s appointments, everything like that, I was eating very, like having beans and instant ramen every night.”

But encouragement from coworkers began to change her mind about applying for benefits.

“My coworkers were telling me ‘You’re eligible for SNAP, you should get signed up,’” said DeHart. “At first, I was kind of hesitant, ‘I should be able to do this on my own … just make some sacrifices and deal with it and figure it out.’”

Even though she was working with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, it was tough to overcome her resistance to asking for help.

“Because my job with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank is helping people sign up for SNAP, like, I work in that department,” said DeHart. “I was doing it every day, but still somehow there’s a stigma around it, I guess.”

DeHart says she’s glad she signed up and that she feels the type of food she is eating now versus six months ago has improved.

“I’m buying fresh tomatoes, I’ve been going to my local farmer’s market recently because they actually accept EBT payments,” said DeHart. On Thursday, Sept. 23, from 4 until 7:30 p.m. NBC4 will host a special CALL4, to sign up volunteers for the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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