Community Meals Help Shawn Regain Strength
Despite having a job where he works nights more than 40 hours per week, Shawn found himself homeless about four months ago, just as the weather started to get cold. Shawn now finds places to sleep in St. Paul shelters, and sometimes he stays at his girlfriend Nicole’s house while he’s getting back on his feet.
“He stays with me,” Nicole said, “and I make sure he’s well fed.” But Nicole can’t provide for them both all the time, so Shawn does try to access other resources.
When we met them, Shawn and Nicole were eating dinner across from one another at a Loaves & Fishes community meal in a pleasantly warm church basement. They and the other visitors had a pasta dish, bread, salad and broccoli, as well as their choice of milk or water. “I’m trying to put some weight back on him,” Nicole said. “I come to these meals with him so he has a nice hot meal.”
Nicole added Shawn has lost more than 100 pounds since he started experiencing financial hardship and being unable to afford food, much less the means to prepare it. Nicole said he’s seen homeless individuals like Shawn turning to dumpsters for sustenance. Without meals like the one at Loaves & Fishes, Nicole said Shawn would rarely have a meal that fills him up.
“I just don’t want to see him in the hospital,” Nicole said. “Every time I see him, he gets skinnier and skinnier.”
Shawn is currently saving enough money to get a place of his own again, and Nicole and Shawn are planning on getting married soon. Things are starting to move forward for the couple, but not without the help of food assistance.
Second Harvest Heartland partners with Loaves & Fishes and other community meal programs to help reach the one in 10 people in our region struggling with hunger with warm, wholesome food they need to thrive. If you’re interested in hearing more about how Second Harvest Heartland and our food shelf/community meal partners are working together to end hunger, sign up for our newsletter!