Carla & Alba
Nineteen-year-old Carla balances a full course load at Northern Essex Community College (NECC) and a part-time, on-campus job to support her and her mother, who has stage 4 breast cancer.
Alba, 21, graduated from NECC in May with an associate degree in business and is pursuing her BA at Worcester State University this fall. Both of Alba’s parents work, but they struggle to provide enough for Alba and her three brothers. After they pay the bills, there’s sometimes not enough for the week’s groceries.
The Greater Boston Food Bank launched its newest community college free Mobile Market at NECC in April, which helped both students and their families through the end of the school year.
“I’m the only one who works at home, so the free Mobile Market at my community college helps me have food at home and concentrate better on my studies,” Carla said. “The food I got lasted us several weeks.”
Carla does all the grocery shopping and cooking for her and her mother, Yocasta. The pair receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance, but because Carla works part time, they only receive about $20 a month in benefits.
For Alba, too, the food from the Mobile Market has helped her family stretch its tight food budget.
“We were planning on going grocery shopping the week of the first distribution,” Alba said. “Because we got the food from here, it eliminated a lot of stuff from our list and helped us get other things we needed.”
Both graduates of Lawrence High School, Alba and Carla became friends while working together at the NECC bookstore. Both students testify to the need for a free Mobile Market among NECC students and their families.
“I know a lot of students definitely need it,” Carla said.
“You can’t see who’s struggling just by looking at them,” Alba said. “You don’t know who’s hungry.”