Gabriela brings her seven-year-old son, Gabriel, with her to the food distribution at GRACE’s Refrigerator in Summit every week. Though she and her husband both have jobs, they, like many families, struggle to afford food and keep up with New Jersey’s high cost of living.
“We don’t have the money that we need to buy the right food, like meat and especially the healthy foods like vegetables or fruits,” she told us.
While Gabriela’s husband works full-time as a chef at a local restaurant, she divides her days between caring for Gabriel and working at her part-time job.
“My husband and I work together to pay the rent and everything else that we need,” Gabriela said. “We need to pay the bills at home, and after that there isn’t a lot left over for food.”
Their only son, Gabriel has a heart condition that makes eating right especially important. When she’s not working, Gabriela takes him to medical therapy sessions to ensure that he grows up healthy and strong. At GRACE’s Refrigerator, Gabriel plays with the other children that have come to the distribution with their parents while Gabriela picks up supplemental produce for the week. She gets a wide variety of healthy foods, like kale, peppers, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes, and oranges.
“The food that I receive here helps my family,” Gabriela said. “We use it in the lunchbox for him at school and make meals with it for dinner.”
Everyone at the distribution knows Gabriela, who comes tired every week after a long day of working and caring for Gabriel. The sense of community among pantry clients reminds her that she’s not alone in her struggle, and she has noticed more and more people in need coming to get supplemental food recently.
“I’ve seen more people coming here because the people need help,” she told us. “I’m glad this is available to the community so that we can come here for the extra help.”