Marc could never close his eyes to the human being in front of him. “We can do both,” he would reply if I suggested giving his $5 bills to a service org rather than to the many individuals we encountered on the street.
Marc never looked away from that suffering. He felt duty bound to respond. He understood as well as anyone the ways food insecurity overlaps with other structural hardships: affordable housing, social isolation, health problems, medical costs, unemployment, underemployment and low wages. For him, though, the enormity of those structures didn’t let him off the hook. If someone asked for a dollar, he reasoned, the person needed that dollar more than did he.
At the same time, Marc was dedicated to supporting non-profits addressing food insecurity and related injustices.
Marc’s great respect for the Northampton Survival Center only increased during his 25 years at Smith. He admired Heidi Nortonsmith, who became the Center’s Executive Director in 2004. A friend of Sabina’s from Friends (Quaker) Meeting, Heidi has developed uncommon strengths in honoring each individual, especially when managing potential conflicts and serving people often in distress.
The Center is a food pantry serving low-income individuals and families throughout Hampshire County. Most important, the staff and numerous volunteers are committed to providing “nutritious food and other resources in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.” That was a commitment Marc stood behind.
Food insecurity affects people living both below and above the poverty line. In 2017, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure. That means 40 million Americans, including more than 12 million children.
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