About the Podcast:

TJ Belt shares her story of hunger and homelessness to break down the barriers associated with healthy food access. She explains how her balloon art fights hunger with dignity. When she serves at her local food pantry, people leave not only with fresh healthy food, but a balloon, a smile and thoughts of hope, love, and acceptance.

Listen: 

Her #1 tip to improve access to healthy food:

People who have had to reach out for help are the first people to volunteer, give, and donate.

About TJ Belt: 

TJ grew up in a home where she had readily available food most of the time. Unfortunately, fast food and junk food are many times quick, easy and cheaper than eating healthy meals. Throughout adulthood, TJ has had a few prolonged periods of unemployment or under employment. One time, she lived in a motel that was paid for by a church, and she utilized a local food pantry. It was challenging because she had a tiny refrigerator for storage and microwave for cooking. She had a car and cell phone, which she needed to get and keep employment. She is in a better place these days, but is humbled to remember darker times and to see folks having to use food banks for the first time. TJ has volunteered to twist balloon animals for several charities and houses of worship over the years to give back as much as possible.

Discussion Takeaways:

  • Providing balloons to the children creates a positive experience for them and their families.
  • The balloons encourage the kids to ask their parents to come to the food pantry and decreases the shame and stigma associated with the food assistance.
  • Access to fresh healthy food is invaluable when you cannot afford it.
  • Obesity and hunger can coexist in the same household.
  • Someone can have access to food but not the nourishing food. That is also food insecurity.

Also, remember that sharing is caring