Focused on the Neediest

Three Days Four Days

Davina Eastwood-Jones, author of Four Days, Four Days, recently participated in a conversation on Poverty and Food Banks with Valerie Echevarria-Bray at Stanford University. Eastwood-Jones started working as a food bank volunteer in Chicago in 1995, five years after the official closing of Project Bread, an organization she’d worked with for 18 years. She then started her own nonprofit, called Dollar Days, to have a hand in rebuilding soup kitchens. The focus is on providing women with a safe place to work and support themselves, as well as providing food-bank members with an individualized plan on how to get back on their feet.

Valerie Echevarria-Bray, a social entrepreneur, went through a similar experience with food banks as Eastwood-Jones. She was a twentysomething and a nanny when she learned that people in her community needed help, and she began volunteering at shelters and meals programs. Her work eventually led her to found Soul Positives, which provides free parenting classes to mothers. When she left the nonprofit, she opened her own, where she provides care and parenting support to parents, as well as being a tutor and a life coach.

What Eastwood-Jones has learned from her work with food banks is that although food banks are a boon, they can’t fix poverty. What she has learned from Soul Positives is that the type of support people need has more to do with practical help, such as healthcare services, than it does with lots of food.

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