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I never thought I would get up out of the Dirt

Donavan was a victim of childhood hunger and food insecurity. There was never enough food at home and what food was there was not nutritious. Not knowing if or when he was going to be able to eat, Donavan relied on his school for his meals. That hunger overshadowed his ability to learn, sleep, and grow. He experienced homelessness, drug addiction and even incarceration at an early age.

Instead of continuing down a dark path, Donavan conquered his drug habit and enrolled in St. Mary’s Food Bank’s Community Kitchen program. He graduated from the program and is now a chef instructor helping start a new life. Donavan is a wonderful example of what someone can accomplish when focused and shown empathy and taught life-and cooking skills in a structured environment.

St. Mary’s highly regarded Community Kitchen program has produced a long list of graduates’ success stories: Those who have gone from struggling through life to becoming self-sufficient and gainfully employed within a few months.

Always shy and seldom trusting, Donavan is now brimming with self-confidence. “This has definitely helped me come out of my shell,” he said. “I am shocked at my accomplishments. I never thought I would get up out of the dirt.”

Donavan especially loves the child meal preparation component of the Community Kitchen program. Helping provide nutritious meals to children through after-school programs, gives Donavan a warm feeling.

“No child should suffer,” he said. “I know we are helping those children and it gives me a greater purpose.”

Donavan wanted to thank St. Mary’s donors, those who have made the Food Bank’s unique second-chance program flourish.

“It means so much to me and to the students I work with,” he said. “People now have a future because of you and this amazing program.”

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