Making Tough Choices To Make Ends Meet

On a cold winter day, 50-year-old Melody walked into Bethany Baptist Church in Newark to receive bags of much-needed food. It’s the end of the month, which means people are running low on or have run out of their food resources.

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“Sometimes in the middle or end of the month, I get low on food,” Melody said. She makes tough choices to get by, a reality many struggling New Jerseyans face every day.

Of the hundreds of thousands of people we serve through community partners, like Bethany Baptist Church, 77 percent told us they have had to decide between utilities and food; 73 percent between medicine and food; and 70 percent between housing and food (Hunger in America 2014).

The pantry is a “godsend,” Melody told us, because it helps her provide for herself and her grandchildren.

“They always have nutritious food,” she added. “You got meat, vegetables [and] dairy. It helps me take care of my grandchildren and my health.”

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Paul has been visiting the pantry ever since he lost his job as a truck driver. “It’s good for the community,” the 51-year-old said as he collected his bags of groceries. “It keeps food on the table while I try to get back to work.”

He told us the last year has been a struggle for him. “It’s tough to be out of work after working for 32 years and not being able to provide for your family,” Paul said.

Jazmine, 32, is visiting the pantry for the second time to get food for herself and her two children. She told us that every decision she makes is for her kids.

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“The pantry has been helping us,” she said. “It’s helping me feed my kids.” The pantry also supplements her food budget through the month.

“Things get really tight,” Jazmine told us. “You’ve got to pay rent and take care of the kids.”

“I make tough choices every day.”

Barbara, another client at the pantry, is in her sixties. She provides for herself and five family members.

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“What brought me here was constantly being short on food for my kids,” Barbara told us. “This helps me keep food on the table.”

The pantry at Bethany Baptist Church provides bags of healthy food to more than 300 people a month and, as Barbara put it: “Without the pantry, there’d be a lot of hungry people.”

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