Feeding America

‘Stuck in the Middle’

May 18, 2021

For 10 years, Michelle was a full-time stay-at-home mom, raising her two boys, now 10 and 16. Before that, she was a science teacher.

Now, Michelle works two jobs to provide for her family, while simultaneously navigating the stresses of COVID-19 and life as a single parent.

The rising cost of groceries, paired with the price of necessary medication and the expense of raising two growing kids, has tightened the budget for Michelle’s family. Like many in Southeast Nebraska, Michelle’s income from her two jobs is just too much to be eligible for assistance, but not enough to routinely afford healthy food.

“There are a lot of families like mine that are stuck in the middle where things get really tight really quickly,” Michelle said. “There are a lot of people struggling to pay the basics. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of that.”

So, Michelle searched for ways to stretch her family’s wallet, to “help us stay in our home and keep things paid.” Once a month, on her way home from work, she attends a Tuesday evening distribution.

“I am able to get the more nutritious and less processed food for my family. I am able to do more meal planning and those types of things that keep my budget where it needs to be so I’m not struggling,” she explains.

Foods that can be frozen typically head to the freezer and become an important part of her meal planning process. Perishable items are enjoyed by her family or shared with neighbors in need. All the food has made it a little easier to pay bills.

“It’s not easy to ask for help or receive help. I’m a fairly independent person, so me getting to the point where I needed some help was hard to do and I wanted to let you know I’m very thankful.”

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