COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The pandemic has shown how many people are at risk of food insecurity and for growing children, not having enough can make a lasting impact. According to the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, one in four children struggle with finding enough to eat.
One Columbus teenager never thought he’d need the food bank, but he was certainly glad they were there when he did.
“Honestly the Mid-Ohio Food Bank did so much for me,” Nathan Majeed said about his experience with the nonprofit.
Months before the COVID-19 pandemic, Majeed spent part of his junior year at Cristo Rey High School giving his time for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. Little did he know, he’d soon be on the receiving end.
“Outside of just needing food, they were mentors and leaders and I truly loved everything they did for me,” said Majeed.
When COVID hit and Majeed heard schools would be shutting down for two weeks, it almost sounded like a vacation.
“At first it seemed like this exciting thing,” Majeed said. “We’ll have this break for a couple weeks and then everyone will come back and we’ll all be refreshed, but we soon realized that wasn’t happening.”
That “break” as we all know, turned into a full-blown pandemic, with lives and jobs destroyed. Both of Majeed’s parents were laid off.
“It was a surprising thing for us,” Majeed said. “My stepmom for sure, she not only enjoys the job as revenue but it’s also a social time.”
They tried stretching what little money they had for food, but Majeed, who was an athlete and a growing boy, was suddenly facing something he never had before: hunger.
So, they turned somewhere Majeed never thought they would have to, yet somewhere familiar: the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.
“I definitely felt safe about it,” said Majeed. “Mid-Ohio Food Bank makes you feel like, OK, you don’t have to worry about anything, this is normal. Especially with the National Guard there, they were just so helpful, so swift, everything just ran smoothly.”
Today, Majeed is studying physics at a California college and wants anyone facing food insecurity to drop the stigma and lean in for help.
“I just want to let them know that they’re not alone,” Majeed said. “And there’s many people that will help them and they don’t have to be ashamed ’cause it’s not something to be ashamed of, it’s natural.”