Could You Make Ends Meet with Only $861 a Month?
The first day Lovie returned to the office after her heart attack, she noticed things had changed. Her employer stopped giving her work to do. She had less and less responsibility, and it didn’t take long for Lovie to figure out what was happening. “They wanted me to retire because of my age,” Lovie said. Taking the hint, Lovie was forced to retire.
Today, at 71, Lovie’s monthly Social Security income is $861. “That’s what I have to pay my rent, lights and water,” Lovie said. “I have to really budget to make my money last to the end of the month. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Lovie’s biggest challenge getting food other than a tight budget is transportation. She used to have a car, but she had to give it up. “I cannot afford a car. I was so stressed out—I was having to pay $250 a month, and then my car would break down,” Lovie said. “At least I’m not stressing now. I really want to keep the stress low so I don’t get another heart attack.”
Transportation is a common and difficult barrier for the individuals we serve. Food help may be available, but if the person cannot physically get to the help, it proves to be a challenging resource.
Lovie said she found out about Second Harvest Heartland through a nurse who was working with her sister. The nurse said, “Go to Second Harvest Heartland, they’ll help you.”
So, Lovie registered for Second Harvest Heartland’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), a resource for eligible seniors to receive a box of nutritious food once a month through the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors. Lovie said it made an enormous difference and relieved some of that harmful stress, but it wasn’t very accessible because of her particular transportation issues. Lovie would take a cab to Second Harvest Heartland, but the driver would let the meter run while Lovie was in line to grab her box. It was a very expensive trip to pick up free food.
With a heavy heart, Lovie withdrew from the program. “I called Second Harvest Heartland and said thank you for the food help, but that I could not pick up the food anymore because I didn’t have transportation.”
Her message didn’t sit there long. To Lovie’s surprise, there was a solution to her barrier. “Someone called me and said they’d be happy to deliver the food to me! I don’t like to let my age get to me, but it’s a huge help. I call that a blessing!” Today, Lovie gets her box of food delivered to her home by a volunteer—currently a Second Harvest Heartland employee in our Development department.
“If you’ve never lived with a low income, you can’t really know what it is. I thank God every day. It’s just me, I take care of myself, with the help of everybody else. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have this food. Thank you!”
Times are still tough for Lovie, but she has some food security to relieve some of her stress. She also has her cat, Garfield. “My mom passed away in 2000, and before she died, she asked me to take her cat. He has arthritis in one leg, but he’s healthy! His name is Garfield, but he doesn’t respond to it,” she laughed. “He doesn’t like Garfield. He only responds to Weewee!”
Second Harvest Heartland and its partners make a powerful difference for families who are struggling, but there is more work to do before we can say no one around us worries about having enough food. Learn more about our CSFP program, sign up to volunteer or donate to help eliminate a barrier for someone who’s struggling.