The Breadwinner

Sometimes it’s a singular event that can drive a family to seek help from Feeding America West Michigan. For Beth, it was a divorce.

She’s currently going through divorce proceedings, and child support for her two children – 6-year-old Stephanie and 4-year-old Lauren – has not yet kicked in. So for the past two months, she’s turned to her local food pantry for assistance.

“Going from two incomes to one income, trying to keep the house, trying to pay the bills, you don’t have money for food,” Beth said.

She’s working as a medical assistant, but she’s had to dramatically tighten her family’s budget to try and make ends meet.

“You learn how to downsize everything. You learn how to live without,” said Beth. “So the luxuries the kids are used to having, I have to say, ‘Sorry, we can’t get that.’ Christmas this year’s going to be interesting.”

Beth’s first trip to the food pantry was hard.

“First, I was embarrassed, extremely embarrassed. I’m supposed to be the one giving the food, not the one taking the food. Now, I’m grateful for the help. I still try to give back as much as I can.”

“We do community meals [at my church], and I enjoy seeing the people come in … and then they leave feeling warm and full and just happy,” she said.

It’s a feeling of gratitude similar to the one she gets when she’s leaving her local food pantry. When Beth looks to the future, she sees brighter days ahead for herself and her girls.

“I’d like to see myself back [at my local food pantry] helping – not needing assistance. Hopefully getting my life back on track,” said Beth.