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The Face of the Newly Vulnerable

Before the pandemic, most would think Stephen’s life was a good one. Comfortable even. Stephen and his wife were both working and the challenges of day-to-day life with two jobs and two daughters (2 years old and 5 years old) were easy enough to manage. Then COVID-19 arrived.

In April Stephen lost his job in project controls and now he faces the loss of his unemployment benefits in July. His wife, Kristina, also lost her job once the pandemic hit. The fear and stress of not being able to provide for his family showed up in new ways for Stephen, but he redirected those emotions toward survival and humility. While it was a very difficult decision, Stephen and Kristina decided that in order to make it through this crisis, they would need to receive assistance the first time in their lives. This is what it means to be newly vulnerable.

Stephen’s story is similar to those of thousands of people in Orange County, and around the world, who are for the first time receiving food assistance due to the pandemic. This new demographic of people in need has created an unprecedented demand for food here and across the country. Stepping up to meet this need locally, Second Harvest created a weekly Pop-Up Drive Thru food distribution that ran for 15 weeks at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Thousands of volunteers served their fellow citizens during that time. One of them was Stephen, who had decided that giving back was a value he not only wanted for himself, but also wanted to teach his children.

Recently, ABC7 heard about Stephen’s story and came out to one of our food distributions to learn more. Stephen was glad to share his experience in the hopes that others who may feel afraid and shamed by losing their ability to provide for themselves and their families will hear his story and find hope. Watch his interview here: ABC7 Story

Did you know?

Our Pop-Up Drive Thru Food Distribution served more than 62,000 households, providing more than 2 million pounds of food!


By: Woody Smith
Marketing Manager
Second Harvest Food Bank