You’re hungry. And you have a family. You have enough food for dinner tonight and tomorrow but you’re waiting for your paycheck Friday to ensure you’ll have money for food for the weekend. You’re fairly confident it will work out (you do this budget dance every month) but you “take lunch” every other Friday at a Philabundance Fresh for All free food distribution… just in case.
Then Friday rolls around and it all worked out! Your check cleared and you can buy dinner for your family. As you watch TV that night, the Fresh for All you visited is featured and someone calls the food recipients “less fortunate”. You quietly, angrily, sadly change the channel and hope your kids don’t ask what ‘less fortunate’ means.
No one should be in this situation; Not the situation of needing help — more than 700,000 people in our area struggle to find food for every meal — but of being reduced to a stereotype. A cautionary tale. Being made to feel less than.
At Philabundance, one of our core values is respect: we strive to always treat our clients with dignity and respect, and expect the same of our 350 member agencies.
At Philabundance, one of our core values is respect: we strive to always to treat our clients with dignity and respect, and expect the same of our 350 member agencies. As the holidays approach, and hunger takes the spotlight, we would love to ask all those who help in the fight against hunger to treat our clients with respect, as well: the food and fund donors; the media; the food drive participants. You can do this through using “person-first” language in press releases, articles and social media posts in which you describe how you’re supporting Philabundance and those we serve.
“Person first” language means exactly what you would think – you put the person first. Do not let someone’s situation define them. If you’re writing a press release, a story, a report and you’re not sure how to refer to the people we serve, you can follow our lead:
A neighbor in need
A person facing hunger
Someone who is food insecure
We strive to talk about those we serve in the same way we talk to those we serve. The old adage applies that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you wouldn’t describe someone in a certain way to their face, don’t describe them that way about them behind their back.
Whether it’s a family member, a friend or someone you’re helping by donating time, money, or food, please think about the person before you speak, and be sure to put them first.