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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Aug 25, 2015

FY15 Q4 Report

Twenty-two-year-old Mindy and her three-year-old daughter live with her parents in Medford. Her father is still working, but her mother had to stop due to illness. Like too many in eastern Massachusetts, even though a family member is working, Mindy’s family can’t afford the food they need to stay active and healthy. She and her family receive healthy foods each month from The Greater Boston Food Bank’s (GBFB) Mobile Market at the Hallmark Health System, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) offices in Malden.

“I came to WIC because I wanted my daughter to be healthy, and they have really helped me with all my struggles. I don’t know where I’d be without the people here.

“When my mom got sick and had to stop working, we cut back on everything. There just wasn’t enough to pay all the bills. Plus, we realized the healthy food that is good for my daughter was expensive.

"The monthly market at WIC makes a big difference for us. My mom and I shop together, and she loves the fresh vegetables and fruits they have. Cooking her special dishes for us makes her happy. Getting meat and the basics, like pasta and rice, means we can save on our grocery budget. I can take that money and provide a better life for my daughter.

"I also started volunteering at the mobile market and, a few years ago, WIC hired me as a program assistant. I staff the front desk, and part of my job is to help with client registration for the GBFB food distribution.

"I’m so grateful for the help my family is receiving and the skills that I have learned, but I see others who are a lot worse off – people who are really struggling. I’m glad to see them getting help, and to be part of that work. Because there are many places in the world where there is no help. We’re lucky.”

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Jun 2, 2015

FY15 Q3 Report

Navy veteran, Dan, was working as a chef at one of the best restaurants in Boston when a devastating illness made it impossible for him to work. He and his family found themselves with little income as their expenses increased. His story is like so many others in eastern Massachusetts, where one in nine people are facing hunger. Dan and his family get the groceries they need from The Open Door pantry in Gloucester, where most of the food is provided by The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB). This includes fresh fruits, vegetables, sources of protein and other nutritious staples that are so important to his growing children as well as to his own recovery.

“My wife, Tammy, noticed a mole that was changing, and made me go and get it checked. Diagnosis: melanoma. Nasty, nasty stuff.

I had to stop working at the restaurant, and Tammy had to quit her job to care for me and manage everything for our three kids. Nine operations and months and months of hard recovery later, our savings – even all our retirement money – was gone. Like that!

What do you do when you can’t afford enough food to feed your kids? Where do you go? I can deal with cancer, but I can’t deal with my children going hungry. We never thought we would need a food pantry, but there are hundreds of thousands of people like us out there.

We didn’t want to, but we had to reach out for help. At The Open Door pantry, we get fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and staples like bread, pasta and milk. It makes all the difference. The Open Door is designed to make their clients feel comfortable and have a “shopping” experience that doesn’t feel like they are at a food pantry.

My last three scans came back clean, so health-wise it feels like I’m on the track back. They say it’s not how you fall, but how you get back up. Not letting anything beat you. I’m living for my kids, really. It’s important for everyone to know that help is available, and how important it is. To all the donors who make it possible to get the help we need, I just want to say thank you. Thank you very, very much. You are amazing.”

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