Roxann and Nate have been together for eight years. They have three children and live in Lawton, Michigan.
They met as coworkers at a large retail store, and after they got married, Roxann decided to stay home and take care of the kids. Because she left as a fully vested employee and they still had Nate’s assistant manager salary, they didn’t worry too much about their finances. But then an unexpected medical bill came along, and then another, and suddenly they were in debt. It got to the point where they had trouble affording groceries.
For a while, Roxann and Nate got by with help from their parents, but it soon became clear they needed something more. That’s when they found Eleanor’s Pantry, one of Feeding America West Michigan’s agency partners. This is their story, in Roxann’s words:
Sometimes, when it rains, it really pours. And when my family faced enormous medical bills that sent us into thousands of dollars of debt right as I got pregnant with my third child—even in spite of my husband’s full-time job and health care coverage—it honestly felt more like a flood. Sometimes, after paying our mortgage and monthly utility bills, we would have $12 left in the bank, far from being enough to feed a family of five for the month. And yet we didn’t quite qualify for any financial assistance.
So when we discovered Eleanor’s Pantry and began going for groceries there each month, it was very humbling, but so relieving and welcoming. Now, even as we get slowly back on our feet, the pantry is the reason we’re getting by. The meats, dairy products, and fresh produce we get each month keep my kids happy and healthy. It turns out the boxed meals and dry goods we get have been a saving grace, too; in anticipation of summer, when we no longer have the school’s free lunch program, I stored them up for months in my laundry room. Now I have quick, easy meals and snacks to serve them each day, taking a huge load off my mind until school starts back up again.
Our wants in life have changed so much. My kids know now that we can never know someone else’s story, and no one can look at us and truly know ours. Most of all, I hope they look back and remember that we always had each other.
Story and photos courtesy of Feeding America
Video created by students from Grand Valley State University