A Mile in Their Shoes

A Mile in Their Shoes

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It jolts Dawn Nelson when she hears negative comments about families “relying” on food pantries or Food and Nutrition Services. After nearly two years of serving as the co-chair for the Moore Elementary School Pantry – a partnership between the school, Highland Presbyterian Church, Temple Emanuel and Second Harvest Food Bank – she’s sure about one thing:

“The families we are helping want nothing more than to not have to come here. They would prefer to have their jobs back…to have their health back…to have their sense of security and peace of mind back.”

Take Richard’s story for example. It is an all-too-familiar one among families in our area. For 15 years he held a good job at a sock manufacturer. His wife waited tables at a restaurant owned by her family. Together, they were able to provide a decent life for themselves and their four kids.

When the sock plant closed, Richard and 200 others were out of a job. Not long after, his wife’s father became ill and had to sell the family restaurant. With no advanced education, Richard and his wife have struggled to find work that pays a living wage. They are reeling from the loss of the life they once knew and are grateful for the relief and support they have found at the Moore School Pantry.

Valerie is an RN and a single mother of three girls, ages 14 and eight (twins). Four years ago, a back injury left her in chronic pain and unable to work full time. On days when the pain gets especially bad and the constant challenge of juggling bills gathers like a weight on the top of her head, she calls upon her faith for solace. Above all else, she prays for the strength to be a good mom to her daughters.

The staple items she is able to get from the Moore School Pantry are a help to Valerie. With them, she can extend her grocery budget to provide more nutritious meals for her kids and the milk her daughters love and “plow through by the gallon.”

“I didn’t grow up poor, but I know how it can affect how you feel about yourself. For me, the hardest part of going to the pantry was admitting to myself that I needed help to give my girls what they need. My young ones love everyone there, because they’re treated like family, but my oldest won’t be seen there and she won’t take advantage of meal assistance at school either. She thinks I don’t understand, but I do. I’ve had to move past worrying about the judgment of others.”

Valerie and Richard appreciate the good people and organizations involved with the Moore School Pantry – for the way they and their children are treated with kindness and dignity. The program will continue to operate during the weeks school is out for summer, and that’s a blessing for them and for other families who might otherwise struggle to provide for their children while school is out.

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#children #Family #Parents #SchoolPantry #MooreSchoolPantry

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