Hungry Neighbor Follow-Up: How Is Sarah’s Family Today?
Last year, when Sarah saw the produce distribution the first time, she went door to door in her neighborhood to share the news. This year, she did the same. “We have so much to be grateful for, and we’ve had a lot of troubles,” Sarah said. “We remember longing for more connection in the times we haven’t had access."
In 2017, Second Harvest Heartland helped provide 81 million meals to working families, children and seniors, powered by tens of thousands of dedicated volunteers, donors and other supporters. We have countless numbers to show the work we were able to do in close partnerships with other organizations and programs with similar missions. But at the end of the day, success is measured in the stories of the people we serve.
We had the opportunity to follow up with Sarah, a mother of five, after connecting with her in the summer of 2016. When we met Sarah, she was attending her first produce distribution supported by Second Harvest Heartland. How has she been? What has food assistance given her and her family?
Quite a bit has happened in the last year.
Sarah’s job in 2016 was rewarding, but she had a limited income source of 30 hours per week and no benefits. And then, it became even more difficult to get by. “They ultimately laid off a bunch of people, and I was one of them,” Sarah said. “A lot of the part-time people were moms with kids, and it was tough.”
Unlike many individuals, Sarah found a new job very quickly, and she is grateful. “It was immediate,” Sarah said. “We were SO lucky, went from one job to the other.”
In the transition, her hours and income increased slightly. But, the new opportunity pushed her just barely out of the strict income bracket to qualify for SNAP benefits, removing access to essential food assistance. “It’s a good problem,” Sarah said. “I’m working for that food money.”
With only a slight increase and income and loss of food help, Sarah’s family budget is still very tight. “We just had to get a little more creative on how we supplement those healthier foods,” Sarah said. As she told us last year, “It’s that difference between being able to fill up for the moment, and getting nutrients.” Especially with kids to raise, food isn’t just about calories, it’s about the ability to be healthy and to grow.
To fill the gap of produce and other fresh foods, she seeks help, and Second Harvest Heartland is there. She visited the produce distribution close to her house again this summer, just as she had been the day we met her. Sarah also visits a food shelf in her neighborhood that supplies fresh foods via a strong Retail Food Rescue partnership.
As for how the kids are doing, all five are doing great. “They are doing really well, although we’re going through puberty with the middle schooler. Everyone’s getting huge, being smelly and all sorts of fun like that,” Sarah said with a laugh.
To learn more about Sarah and her family’s journey accessing nutritious food, tune in live to 830 AM Let’s Kick Hunger Day Radiothon from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. You’ll hear from Sarah and more stories from some of our hungry neighbors, partners and more.