Feeding America

Feeding a Family of Five

January 29, 2021

Mary Jo’s three daughters have a plan.

Her oldest, Hannah, wants to be a nurse. Rachael and Sarah aspire to join the FBI.

Hannah graduated high school two years ago and has been working to save for college ever since. Rachael, a sophomore, works part-time while going to school and participating on the cheerleading squad. Sarah, who is just 12, is focused on finishing her sixth grade year.

Mary Jo has educational aspirations, too. She already has a bachelor’s degree in child development, but dreams of returning to school to obtain an additional degree in nutrition. For right now, she is a full-time caretaker for her 86-year-old mother who has dementia.

Mary Jo’s mother, a former missionary in Japan, enjoys cuddling with the dogs and helps maintain the household by doing dishes.

Things haven’t been easy since a family dispute drained their bank accounts and depleted college funds a few years ago. But these five women have a system. They budget each month. They look for sales and use coupons when they can. They eat food the girls bring home from the restaurants where they work. They “get through,” Mary Jo says.

“We’re behind on bills and all kinds of stuff,” she says. “I utilize what I can.”

Last summer, Hannah stumbled across the Food Bank on the Internet. They have been attending food distributions ever since. The food has provided important nutrition and been an invaluable part of their system.

“I like the Food Bank provides as much as it can toward proper nutrition,” Mary Jo says. “We as a society eat so much junk and we don’t get junk in the boxes; it’s wholesome and healthy.”

There aren’t many foods Mary Jo’s family doesn’t like. They’ve enjoyed receiving meats, cheddar cheese, eggs and non-perishable items, to name a few. But there were two items—and two distributions—Mary Jo remembers most fondly. The first, a time when she uncovered oatmeal in the box; it’s one of her favorites. The other, a time the family received four bags of apples. “I love the apples. My girls love apples,” she said. To ensure nothing went to waste, she made homemade applesauce in the crockpot to keep for later.

Mary Jo is grateful for the positive experiences she’s had at food distributions, praising the professional staff and respectful clients, and expressing appreciation for the donors who have helped her family get the food they need.

“Thank you so much. If it hadn’t been for you [donors], we wouldn’t be here—we literally would have not made it. I’m so grateful it’s there. If we didn’t have that [Food Bank] we wouldn’t survive.”

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