Easing the pain of food insecurity

Grassroots Tehachapi


March 17, 2018

Last week, a woman walked into Tompkins Elementary School with a beautiful goal.

She met with the principal of the school to share her desire to help a family in need. She was directed to Hortencia Tapia, the food services supervisor for Tehachapi Unified School District, to look into the possibility of paying off some unpaid lunch bills from elementary students in Tehachapi.

The calculations began.

All of the unpaid lunch bills for Tehachapi's three elementary schools was too much for one person to cover. In the end, this incredibly generous woman who wishes to remain nameless, donated more than $500, which paid the lunch bills of 13 students on the reduced lunch program who owed $20 or more.

"This is the first time I've ever heard of something like this happening," Tapia said. "It gave me goosebumps. I couldn't believe what I saw happening. I thought, maybe someone would come donate $20 or so, but she emptied her purse."

We all hear stories about random acts of kindness, but this one truthfully gave me goosebumps, too. Food insecurity is something that plagues every country, every state, every town. The thought of a hungry child coping as they try to learn and grow is absolutely heartbreaking.

Something that makes this anonymous friend even more special, was her reaction to receiving help from Tapia.

When she was given the total amount for unpaid, reduced price lunch bills that exceeded $20, Tapia said the woman emptied her purse, counting every penny to make sure she could cover it all. She ended up about $3 short, which didn't sit well with her. Tapia told her she would gladly cover the remaining. This act of kindness brought tears to our anonymous giver's eyes.

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"I think we both got choked up at that moment," Tapia said. "I felt like such a jerk, giving $3 when she did so much."

At the moment, it feels like everyone I care most for in this world is struggling with something. Health issues, financial struggle, finding a balance of happiness, the pressure of oppression or woes of the heart. All of it hurts, all of it leads to sleepless nights, doubt and sometimes depression. As prominent and tragic as those feelings are, the good of humanity never fails to step up and open our eyes to so much more than assisting in the removal of financial struggle for something as basic as food.

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This means everything.

There can never be enough kindness in the world. Never enough compassion. So let's rev up the random acts of kindness in our town. Let's show the people around us they aren't alone in their struggles. Worry and hardship is a common thread we all share, so let's help one another more.

I always ask for suggestions of people or organizations doing good in our community that I can feature in Grassroot Tehachapi columns. Now, my challenge to you is to be one of these amazing people. Perform a random act of kindness this week and tell me about. I'd love to write about a collection of good deeds performed in Tehachapi this month. I don't need to mention your name, but I'd love to see how many of you will spare a minute, a dollar or a smile to make life in our mountain town kinder.

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Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at jcrisalli@gmail.com.

See you next time!


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