May 4, 2017

Laurie's Story

Laurie and Vince
Laurie and Vince

Fifty-two-year-old Laurie turns to the Salvation Army in New Bedford for spiritual and emotional support, as well as for the healthy food her family needs, but sometimes cannot afford. The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) provides most of the food distributed by the Salvation Army's food pantry and meal program. 

This is Laurie's story.

"I love the people at the Salvation Army. They've been here for me during the hardest times of my life, especially when my beautiful 10-year-old daughter, Page, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Everybody here loved Paige and made her feel loved as her illness progressed. As our medical bills started to pile up, we knew we could always count on the friendly faces and healthy food. When she died last August, I was devastated. I miss waking up every day and caring for her. I miss her so much."

"Now I live in public housing with my fiancee, Vince, and we're both on disability. Even with food stamps, we don't have enough to buy the food we need. I'm also diabetic and have to eat as healthy as possible. I'm trying to follow a better diet so I can get off my expensive medication.

Vince and I are so grateful to the Salvation Army, and we are involved and give back as much as we can. He's a volunteer driver and goes all over picking up and delivering food. I help out in the kitchen preparing and serving our community meals on Sundays and Wednesdays, and I also sing in the choir.

But what I like most is volunteering at the after-school youth program, where I help the kids with their homework and feed them supper. Caring for them makes me feel close to Paige.

We'll be thinking about Paige at the Salvation's holiday community meals this year. She used to love the full plate of food - mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry suace and corn! Those holiday meals have bcome a tradition for us, and I know I'm wiht family."

The Salvation Army in New Bedford serves 600 people each week. Laurie is like many clients served by our member agencies who have experienced hardships that make it difficult to keep up. Together, we are providing healthy food and safe environments that are making a different in the lives of many.

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Feb 3, 2017

Ann's Story

Ann
Ann

Seventy-six-year-old Ann lives on a fixed income in a Newburyport subsidized housing complex. Laid low by a long convalescence, Ann found herself unable to afford the healthy food necessary for her to recover and stay strong. With help from The Greater Boston Food Bank, Ann applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps. Today, she has enough nutritious food to eat each month, and she can use more of her limited resources for other living costs, such as heating bills and health care. 

This is Ann’s story.

“I worked all my life in many different jobs, but eventually settled on teaching art. I believe everyone is innately creative, and I love my work. I even had my own after-school art studio for a number of years, but found it increasingly difficult to earn a sustainable living. But I was lucky to find a home in the housing authority, and I have some social security.

A year and a half ago, I had major surgery with complications, which put me into a rehabilitation facility. So I had less money for food, and it was harder and harder to make ends meet. I needed help, but I was afraid of being judged. Besides, I never thought I’d qualify for food stamps.

Finally, I reached out to my local Council on Aging, and they connected me with The Greater Boston Food Bank’s SNAP coordinator. I can’t tell you how different the experience was from what I’d feared. I thought it would feel punitive and judgmental. Instead, I felt completely understood and encouraged. The coordinator was a godsend. She helped me with the complicated paperwork to apply for SNAP benefits. But it wasn’t just what she did, it was how she did it—efficiently, but with kindness.

Now, SNAP is extending my food budget so that I can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, which are expensive, and plan for healthier meals. I feel a helping hand has been held out to me, and I’m very grateful. 

GBFB’s programs for seniors include monthly Brown Bag grocery distributions at 15 partner sites. We also administer the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition program for low-income seniors, as well as provide information and support to help eligible seniors access Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Learn more at GBFB.org/our-programs

Nov 14, 2016

Lana's Story

Lana and her son.
Lana and her son.

Lana is a recently divorced mother who depends on the Pembroke Soup Connection to feed her young sons. She and her family are like so many in eastern Massachusetts who are struggling to make ends meet. More and more are turning to The Greater Boston Food Bank’s (GBFB) member agencies for the food they need to stay active and healthy.

This is Lana’s story.

“Both of my sons have special needs – the younger is severely autistic, non-verbal and in a wheelchair – and there’s no one else who can give them the care they need. I had a career in IT, but there’s just no way I can be there for my children and hold down full-time employment. Last summer, I lost my part-time job because I had to put my boys first. When my ex-husband got laid off a few months later, he was unable to pay child support. All of a sudden, we were in serious trouble. “You never think you could be someone who can’t afford to feed their kids.

“It was just before Thanksgiving last year and I’d decided that, no matter what, we were going to have a traditional holiday meal. So, when we drove past the Pembroke Soup Connection and saw a sign offering ‘free’ turkey and other holiday foods, my older son – who has autism – got excited and urged me to stop. I’d never been to a food pantry, and was worried about the stigma that comes with needing that kind of help. I almost didn’t pull over, but I’m so grateful that we did.

“First of all, the people were so friendly and welcoming. They took an immediate interest in my sons, and were incredibly patient and caring. They made sure my son had foods that considered his peanut allergy! I was feeling down on myself, because I couldn’t afford turkey for Thanksgiving, but their warmth and support changed that.

“Now, we visit the Pembroke Soup Connection twice a month. And because food is so expensive, the fresh fruits and vegetables and meats we get there, not to mention healthy snacks and juices, frees up money for other essential needs, like paying bills and providing a good life for my boys.

“I tell my friends, ‘don’t feel sorry for me, because what’s happened to my family could happen to anyone.’ Some of them need help, too, and I encourage them to reach out for it. With my sons back in school this fall, I can go back to part-time work. We’ll be ok. I know things will continue to get better, and we’re not alone. The Pembroke Soup Connection serves more than 1,200 other clients a month and receives about 90% of all their food from GBFB.”

 
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