Chicagoan Bridges Language Gap at Local Food Bank
Feeding America frequently spotlights one of the volunteers who take the time to help out their neighbor in need. In May 2021, their focus is a Chicago woman who uses her language skills to reduce barriers for those who the St. James Food Pantry serves.
Christina Sung’s story begins in the Spring of last year. COVID-19 pandemic had a foothold across the United States, lives changed, and many Americans found themselves visiting food banks for the first time. Volunteer numbers were down because of people quarantining at home. Sung felt compelled to do something helpful.
A shelter not far from her home used Facebook to get the word out that they needed a volunteer Chinese translator. She began helping needy Chicagoans at the St. James Food Pantry, a Greater Chicago Food Depository partner. Sung helps to check-in visitors weekly. She also volunteers with the pantry’s monthly mobile food distribution.
St. James Catholic Church serves Chicago’s Asian community — predominantly. Sung’s knowledge of several Chinese dialects helps her assist the food pantry clients. She talks about their connection:
You can see in the expressions of the people that come to the pantry when I talk to them, ‘Oh, you understand me! You can get what I need,’ and that’s a good feeling.
“The world can be a pretty small place,” says Snug when referring to the coincidence that the pantry’s primary clientele in Chicago speaks the same dialect as her mother’s village in China.
Feeding America reports 9.3 percent of residents in Greater Chicago experience food insecurity. Nearly three-quarters of Chicagoans qualify for SNAP — 165 percent below the poverty level. Many households experiencing food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and need to rely on their local food banks and other hunger relief organizations for support.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Feeding America: How one volunteer is bridging a language gap to help feed her community; by Paul Morello
Feeding America: Mobile Food Pantry Program
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Penn State’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Mack Male’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License