Working Mom Finds Support at Mobile Pantries

volunteer and client hug at a mobile pantry

Doris poses with the food she received in the back of her car.

Doris once attended culinary school, so she’s an expert at cooking delicious meals for her family.

Last month, she made a stir fry using chicken breast, rice and a variety of fresh produce she received from a Mobile Food Pantry.

“My family scarfed it down!” she said.

Years ago, when her two children were young, Doris’ husband broke his leg and couldn’t work. Usually a stay-at-home mom, Doris got a job at a gas station to help her family make ends meet. Then, she was in a rollover car accident and experienced major back injuries, which made it impossible for her to work.

That’s when she discovered the Mobile Food Pantries hosted by St. Patrick – St. Anthony Catholic Parish Church, a longtime partner of Feeding America West Michigan. Doris has regularly attended ever since, receiving plenty of fresh produce and other food that helps her family.

Unable to get disability income, she now works a retail job — despite still struggling with her back injuries.  Even with their two incomes, she and her husband struggle at times to cover their mortgage, medical expenses and other bills. Receiving supplemental gr­­oceries from Mobile Pantries helps them make ends meet.

Doris’ two children still live at home, so the extra groceries help them eat, too. One currently attends college and the other is going into the Airforce.

At the Mobile Pantries, Doris also picks up food for her friends and family in need. She loves helping others — “It’s in my nature. My mom taught us that. I share a lot.”

Growing up, Doris experienced hunger as well, but there weren’t as many resources available back then.

“My parents struggled,” she said. “I remember dad hunting for rabbits and squirrels. My mom would say, ‘Eat it or go hungry.’”

As she got older, she developed stomach-related health challenges.

“The doctor said he didn’t care what we ate, as long as it was something healthy,” she recalled.

She learned to garden and can during this time and remembers picking green beans alongside her sisters every summer. Today, she still gardens, and often cans her own tomato and apple sauces. Her homemade baked beans are famous among her family and friends!

Doris and Cheryl, the Mobile Pantry coordinator, hug in front of the food line
Doris and Cheryl, the Mobile Pantry coordinator, have known each other for many years.

Hardworking and resilient families like Doris’ often find themselves in need of a little extra help, but unable to qualify for support from government programs. No matter the circumstances that cause West Michigan and Upper Peninsula neighbors like Doris to seek food assistance, the food bank and our  partner food pantries and meal programs are there to help.

Thanks to the generous support from individuals and organizations like the MOON Chapter of Credit Unions, we can continue to fight hunger in Ottawa County and in all 40 counties of our service area.

Story written by Communication and Marketing Specialist, Juliana Ludema.