Everyone who visits a food pantry has a unique story about the challenges they face each day. Our network of pantries and programs provides the food assistance they need.
Kathleen is retired. Lisa is blind and her husband takes care of her. Latasha got a degree but can't find a job. All three were served by our network this past year. [caption id="attachment_649" align="alignleft" width="278"] Kathleen visits a food pantry to help make ends meet on a fixed income.[/caption] “Nobody sees that it’s not numbers and statistics, it’s people,” Kathleen said. “These are people lining up at food pantries and applying for money to put food on the table. These are real people.” Kathleen, Lisa and Latasha are just three of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors who face hunger every day. We're working to provide nutritious food for anyone in need across Chicago and Cook County. Last year, the Food Depository distributed nearly 70 million pounds of food, 38% of which was fresh produce. Every day we distribute the equivalent of 159,000 meals. For Kathleen, that food helps support herself and her grandson, Timothy, who she’s been caring for since he was three days old. When he was seven, Kathleen adopted him. “He’s my retirement fund,” she said. “I poured all of the money I saved into him.” Today, Kathleen and Timothy, 32, live on a fixed income. She receives Social Security and her grandson receives Supplemental Security Income. They also receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, along with medical support. Kathleen is unable to work due to a mobility ailment and Timothy cannot work due to developmental disorders. “People think SNAP does everything for you,” Kathleen said. “Not even close. Then you have to turn to pantries. It helps immensely, but you still struggle.” [caption id="attachment_648" align="alignright" width="278"] David and Lisa receive fresh produce and other staples at the St. Columbanus food pantry.[/caption] Meanwhile, Lisa takes the PACE bus once a month to the St. Columbanus food pantry, with the help of David Carter, her husband. Lisa is legally blind and has been for over 30 years. Lisa stayed home with their son, while David worked a warehouse job. Their budget is tight. "So we visit St. Columbanus, one of the most organized and dignified pantries in the area," she said. David retired a few years ago and is the full-time caregiver of Lisa. Lisa receives disability and they both receive social security, but it hardly covers the rent. "With the cost of food going up and our economy leaving some without jobs, these pantries help subsidize everyone," Lisa said.
"Food pantries are vital to the community. These food pantries are mandatory and a blessing to us all."
Lisa, St. Columbanus Food Pantry client
Those pantries – part of the Food Depository’s network of more than 700 partners in Cook County – have made the difference this year for people like LaTasha Williams. She earned her medical coding degree in 2015 but still hasn’t been able to find a job in her field. [caption id="attachment_650" align="alignright" width="278"] When LaTasha's work hours are unpredictable, the Chosen Tabernacle Food Pantry helps her put meals on the table.[/caption] "I thought my degree was going to be an investment, but now instead of getting a job, I am just contacted to pay my loans," LaTasha said. "If don't have any money to give them, they garnish my checks. How can I give them money, if I don't even have enough to eat?" LaTasha Williams is scheduled to work 20 hours a week at her delivery job. Last week, she worked five hours. The week before, she worked zero. LaTasha’s last paycheck was $45. "I drive half an hour away, just to get sent home," LaTasha said. "I can't afford the gas money, but my boss doesn't see it that way. If they aren't busy, I don't get paid.” LaTasha fills in the gaps by visiting the food pantry at Chosen Tabernacle Full Gospel. "This pantry helps make sure my mom and I are able to eat, even if I can't always make ends meet." Each of our clients has unique stories about the barriers they face every day. With help from supporters like you, they are able to find help in our pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs.
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