Hi, my name is Joshunda and I'm an adult survivor of food insecurity, homelessness and poverty. As a culture, we talk about surviving all kinds of physical ailments, but not really the emotional, internal ones that can really transform your sense of self. For me, being hungry as a kid really reinforced a lot of shame and doubt, and when I grew up, I knew I wanted to be a part of helping to alleviate that feeling as much as possible for others.
Running has always been a passion of mine, but I never thought I could run a marathon. Nine years ago, after receiving news of the death of my father by suicide, I simultaneously learned that I'd been selected by lottery to run the TCS New York City Marathon. It took me nearly several months and a lot of training in brutal heat -- I was living in Texas at the time -- but it was so worth it to try and run through my grief and sadness. It took from dawn until dusk - nearly 6 hours - for me to finish that race in 2010, but I finished.
Two years ago, when I joined the New York Common Pantry (NYCP), I had just returned to my hometown after living and working in several other cities. But New York City is the place where I'd grown up going to food pantries with my mother when she ran out of cash; this was the place where I wanted to most serve people like me. When the Junior Board Chairs mentioned they were looking for volunteers to apply to run the NYC Marathon, even though it'd been years since I attempted a marathon, (I ended up plateauing in my 30s at three full-marathons) my heart fluttered in excitement.
On Sunday, November 3, I'll be running along with my friend Frank Walter and other members of the New York Common Pantry (NYCP) team in the world's largest marathon to raise awareness about the issue of hunger and food insecurity in our city. NYCP is proud to be a 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Charity Partner and looks forward to using this opportunity to further our mission of promoting dignity, health and self-sufficiency for the people we serve.
Founded in 1980, NYCP is one of New York City’s largest community based food pantries supplying innovative emergency food provisions, offering meals and support to nearly 500,000 New Yorkers annually. Not many people know this but there are pantries both in Harlem and in The Bronx, my hometown.
Our programs include grocery distribution, nutrition education, and other comprehensive case management services so that the men, women, and families that come to us for help can lead full, self-sustaining lives. I hope that I'll finish this year in under 5 hours, or at least beat that first time by a few minutes. No matter what, I know it will be worth it to raise money for this cause that for me is so deeply personal and totally worth all the sweat, the miles and the time.