Growing up poor and hungry, local woman feeds our neighbors in need

SEATTLE -- Victoria Austin knows what it’s like to struggle.

“I spent the first five years of my life without a place to truly call home,” Victoria says. “My mom was going through a divorce with three kids under the age of 10. We were bouncing around a bit trying to find our footing. Sometimes we were living in my mom’s silver Aerostar van.

“We didn’t always have a lot of money. There was a lot of love to go around but not a lot of money.”

Not much money. And rarely enough to eat.

“I can count on two hands the number of times I remember my fridge being full, so hunger is something that is always on the forefront of my mind," she says.

Many of us are fortunate enough to not know what it’s like to be hungry, and have no access to food, with no way to satisfy that hunger.

“It’s just an empty feeling,” Victoria says. “It’s scary not knowing where your next meal is coming from. When I was a kid, sometimes it meant going over to my neighbor’s house. There’s a certain level of shame there. As a kid you don’t understand that. You just go where the food is.”

Now, Victoria is where ALL the food is. Shortly after graduating from the University of Washington - with straight A’s - Victoria went to work for Food Lifeline. For Victoria, it was more than a desire to make the grades. It was a deep yearning to change her life and the lives of others.

“There was a hunger to succeed,” Victoria says. “So that hunger was driving that need to succeed.”

Now, as the social media and communications coordinator for Food Lifeline, Victoria is the voice of an organization that stocks the shelves of more than 300 area food banks, distributing over 115,000 meals a day to our neighbors.

"Having that lens of what these people are going through and what the need is in the community really informs the work that I do, really brings a level of heart to it. I want our community to know that there are people out here that are thinking of them and thinking about their particular circumstances," she says.

Q13 FOX is proud to partner with Food Lifeline to sponsor the 2018 Holiday Meals Match campaign. A $1 donation will buy eight meals for those in need. For more information, click here.