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Essay: Going hungry

I was jogging in a Traverse City neighborhood recently when a woman in a shabby coat signaled me to stop.

“Do you have some money for food?” she asked.

I said no, which was true, but it bothered me. Her question and my answer.

I thought about my dad who grew up during the Great Depression and knew about poverty and hunger. His father was a cabinet maker and saved money for my dad to attend college.

Later, when my father started his own business, he had an office in downtown Grand Rapids.

He often saw poor people on the street and some of them asked for money.

“I didn’t want to see anyone going hungry,” he said. “But I wasn’t comfortable just handing out cash.”

Instead, my dad set up an open account with a local restaurant and had some little cards printed up with the restaurant’s name and address.

“When someone asked me for money, I’d sign the card and give it to them,” he explained. “It was good for a free meal.”

At the end of each month, my dad went to the restaurant and paid the bill.

“I know it didn’t solve the problem,” he said, “but I wanted to do something.”