May 19, 2016

Staci's Story

Staci and her daughters
Staci and her daughters

A single mother, Staci works full-time as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) but still can’t afford all the nutritious food her young daughters need to stay active and healthy. Each month, she joins almost 400 other struggling families to receive fresh produce and other nourishing foods at GBFB’s School-based Pantry at the Connery School in Lynn.

This is Staci’s story.

“I’ve never not had a job. Since I was 16 years old, the only time I ever took off was a few weeks after each of my daughters was born. Even while I was studying to get my CNA license, I worked. But it’s not easy – especially when the prices keep going up, but my pay stays the same – and no matter how hard I work, I can’t seem to get ahead. Once you get down, it’s very, very hard to get back up.

“Every parent wants to be better than their parents were, but I have felt like I couldn’t give my kids everything they need and deserve. It’s a very stressful feeling in the bottom of your stomach, when you know that you want to do something for them, or you want to give them something, and you can’t.

“Most people don’t realize that just because you’re going to a food pantry, it doesn’t mean you’re not working, or unwilling to work, or didn’t get laid off. It doesn’t mean something happened so you just can’t work! It just means you need help.

“The Connery School Pantry makes it a little easier on me. And it’s better for my girls because they wake up in the morning and they know there’s something for breakfast, because we get whole grain cereals and bread from the pantry. They can come home from school and know there are snacks that are good for them. They know at dinnertime, there will be meat as well as some kind of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Compared to when we didn’t have the school pantry, I’ve noticed a positive difference in their grades at school. In addition to the healthier foods, I think it’s because I’m not as stressed about everything, so they’re not as stressed about everything. It all works in some strange way, that it helps everybody.

I honestly don’t know what I would do without the school pantry.”

 

 

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Feb 22, 2016

Lisa's Story

Lisa
Lisa

At 35, Lisa’s diagnosis with aggressive Multiple Sclerosis threw her stable home into chaos and poverty. Maintaining a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is critical to helping her avoid the malnutrition associated with MS that causes fatigue and worsens major symptoms. Lisa gets the healthy, made-from-scratch meals she needs to fight her disease from Community Servings, a local food and nutrition program that receives a variety of food from The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB).

“My husband and I had just bought a house to renovate in Quincy, and I remember walking on the front grass one day and feeling a strange numbness in my feet. My doctors told me I had a virus and it would go away, but for five years, I lived with what I believed to be a virus, suffering from a number of side effects including stumbling and clumsiness. Finally, after more tests, I was diagnosed with primary progressive MS, which is extremely fast moving. I was in a wheelchair within five years of being diagnosed.

“Our kitchen wasn’t wheelchair accessible and the nature of MS made the act of cooking extremely difficult. Before Community Servings, I felt guilty that I was no longer able to prepare nutritious meals for my husband. I would often share my hospital meals with him to ensure that he would eat.

“Now that we are receiving weekly, home-delivered meals from Community Servings, we have enough to eat. I don’t have to make sacrifices in my diet or feel guilty that I am able to eat, while my husband is not. We don’t have to worry about food preparation and we are able to look forward to having a variety of good meals every day, that include wild rice, homemade soups and fresh in-season vegetable like butternut squash and asparagus.

“MS has made me extremely bony and thin, but I still have a large appetite. I went from an empty refrigerator and not eating to having three nutritious meals daily. We couldn’t, at the same time, care for my physical needs and do all that is required to prepare nutritious meals. Community Servings, and the food they receive from GBFB, is truly the best option for ensuring we have access to a variety of balanced meals every day.”

Nov 24, 2015

Andre's Story

Every week, 82-year-old Andre picks up healthy food from the Franciscan Food Center in downtown Boston, which receives most of its food from The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB). He is like so many other seniors in eastern Massachusetts living on fixed or limited incomes, and unable to afford enough nutritious food to avoid hunger. This is Andre’s story.

“I grew up in Haiti, and worked as an elementary school teacher for 19 years. When my father died, it was me who took care of my mother and younger sisters and brother. But it was hard. I had to work, work, work!

“Soon, I had my own family to support, and I stayed working hard all the time. It wasn’t easy. Then, my little sister who I’d helped to raise came to live in Dorchester, and I came for a visit. Right away, I knew my family would have a better life here, so we immigrated to this country.

“We were so grateful to be in Massachusetts, where my daughters could get a good education, and grow up safe and successful. I gave up teaching, and found work at the hospital – in housekeeping and in the kitchen, and as a nurse assistant. Those were hard jobs, but I was proud to be able to provide for my family.

“When I turned 65, I had to stop working because I was just too tired! My income is small, so I moved to Unquity House in Milton and started going to St. Anthony’s Shrine in downtown Boston. At their exercise class for seniors, I learned about the food pantry at the Franciscan Food Center. Since then, I’ve been coming every Thursday to help supplement my grocery budget. I love the Franciscans! Thank God for them.

“What I like about the pantry is that I can choose the foods I want, and the volunteers help me pick out healthier foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables. Having that food during the holiday season means a lot! “I visit the pantry every week because it helps keep me strong and healthy. I’m still an acolyte, contributing and staying active in my church. I turned 82 in late September, but I don’t look it!”

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