It is tempting for a hunger relief agency like Iron Gate to focus on numbers—how many guests we fed, how many tons of food we received and how much it cost. However, our guests are more than numbers, they are people we come to know and care about. Often we learn about their lives, their setbacks, their successes and their dreams.
Hunger is what you feel when you don’t have enough to eat. Iron Gate served 209,991 meals in 2017. Food insecurity is the set of circumstances that prevent your access to food. Iron Gate distributed groceries to 11,936 families.
Hunger and food insecurity don’t discriminate: they affect people of all ages, races, and genders in every community in Tulsa County. They happen everywhere and could be affecting someone in your neighborhood today. There is no one face of hunger and food insecurity. The need varies among children, older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, the working poor, and others.
Some come to Iron Gate regularly, others we may meet only once. All are welcome. In the Faces of Iron Gate, you will meet some of the guests who ate with us this year.
Beyond her bright smile and sassy attitude, volunteers know one thing about Pamela; her sweet tooth. She starts her days at Iron Gate by skipping the entree and heading straight to dessert. It's her ritual. Depending on the day, she may have two desserts, then her meal.
Polly has a lot to smile about these days. After coming to Iron Gate to eat nearly every day, she will soon be moving into her own apartment. She flashes a new set of pearly whites, when she says she'll still come around to visit. "I enjoy it," she says with a big toothy grin. Polly says Iron Gate's grocery pantry will help her stay in her new apartment by providing groceries once a month.
"I got stories to make you cry," Leon likes to say with a touch of mischief to brighten the somber statement. Leon has a home and has worked most of his life. He comes to Iron gate to help make ends meet. A meal or a bag of groceries from Iron Gate helps insure he can stay in his home.
Crystal eats at Iron Gate every day and we've watched her sorrow and her joy. We were there when all of her belongings were stolen. We were there when she rushed in with a twinkle in her blue eyes and announced she was finally getting an apartment. For Crystal, Iron Gate isn't just where she eats. It's where she finds comfort, solace, and the support to make her way in the world.
Like many Iron Gate guests, Michael doesn't just come for the food. It's the people that he's come to know over the last year that keep him coming back. When he's had a rough day or a rougher night, he finds community at Iron Gate.
Pippin has lived on the streets for the last five years. Originally, from Talequah he found his way to Iron Gate. For Pippin, his life on the streets isn't a hardship; it's a calling. He believes God wants him on the streets to work through him.
Jack was delighted to take part in this year's Faces of Iron Gate project. He says with a big grin, "I am Iron Gate." The staff says he's one of those guys who is always trying to help people. Jack himself says, "I try to help people- help them in any way that I can." Jack called the river his home for three-and-a-half years. After working with a partner agency, Jack is finally in his own apartment. But he still stops by Iron Gate occasionally for a meal and a chat. "I love it," he says of the Iron Gate Community.
Sarai, Annaliese, & Rosabella
Sarai works hard to feed her little ones. She has a job, but some months are tough. When she needs a little help to make ends meet, she turns to Iron Gate. While most of our guests are adults, Iron Gate is important for families as well. Every time Annaliese and Rosabella visit Iron Gate, they receive a kids pack, full of healthy snacks. It brings a smile to their faces and helps ease a mother's worries.