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Hunger Hero: Mary Simun

The work of the Food Bank would be impossible without our amazing donors and volunteers. Mary Simun is both of these. She has a core belief that no one should be without food. “In the wealthiest country on earth, there is absolutely no reason why anyone should go hungry,” she says while preparing red skin potatoes for a Mobile Food Pantry distribution. “Especially children and especially with the amount of food we waste.”w31a0024

Mary is a fourth generation teacher. She’s taught everything from second grade up to twelfth. “I became a teacher because I wanted to help people,” she explained. “And I became interested in the topic of hunger when I saw that so many of my students were coming to class undernourished and unable to focus.”

Mary became a financial supporter of the Food Bank because of her mother Patricia, who was also a donor before she passed away in 2014. “I’m still heartbroken from that,” Mary says. “But I try to stay positive and optimistic by doing kind things for others and by trying to see the good in everyone.”

Mary thinks the Food Bank is special. “It’s amazing to me just how efficient the Food Bank is with turning labor and donations into food,” she says. “It is astounding that you’re able to provide four meals for a dollar.” Mary is also impressed with the Food Bank staff that she’s worked with. “It really strikes me how everyone is so passionate about feeding people. That really resonates with me.”

Mary volunteers for a variety of organizations, taking a special interest in the environment and social issues. She helps out with the Mobile Food Pantry distribution in Redondo Beach every first and third Thursday of the month. She arrives in the parking lot of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church before 8:00 am and waits for the Mobile Food Pantry to arrive. Then she helps the other volunteers set up tables, organizes product, trains new volunteers and then distributes the food to the 150-200 clients who come through the line. “We aren’t just giving out food, though,” she says. “We are making a human connection. Eye contact. We give compliments. We treat these people like people.”

w31a0011Now retired, Mary likes to spend her time volunteering, gardening and going to the gym. She also spends time knitting and sewing things for the people she serves at the Mobile Food Pantry. “I am optimistic because of all the people who volunteer, because of the Food Bank staff who are passionate about what they do and because the people we serve have such a positive attitude,” she says. “How do you explain that? It’s amazing to me how people with so little can still be so happy.”



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