In 2009, a couple of years after moving to Colorado from Florida, Alisa’s husband left. With piles of bills, no job and two kids, Alisa needed help. While applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Alisa’s caseworker noticed that Alisa had been a certified nursing assistant (CNA) when she lived in Florida. The county helped Alisa receive her CNA licensing in Colorado. After completing that training, Alisa enrolled in an EMT program and completed her final testing in December 2013. In January 2014, Alisa is proud to begin nursing school in Wyoming.
To make ends meet while in school, Alisa works three part-time jobs, receives $189 per month in SNAP benefits and visits the food bank at the beginning and end of the month. “The Food Bank is extra help for me and my family,” said Alisa. “When I’m out of money and my food stamps run out, I know I can go to the Food Bank to make sure I can get food for my kids.”
“Once I’m a licensed nurse and have a job with health insurance, I won’t need the Food Bank’s help anymore. I will have accomplished my goals.”
David is 50 years old and only able to work part-time due to a disability. His job doesn’t pay well and his expenses continue to increase. Last year his Medicare A/B went up $25 per month and so did his Medicare Part D contribution. Like many, David is frustrated because his monthly expenses continue to rise, but his income isn’t keeping up. The Food Bank helps David when there just isn’t enough money for food.
Mary is 70 and lives alone in a senior mobile home park in Loveland. She is a retired migrant farm worker and lives on Social Security. She also receives food stamps, but finds it hard to make the food last until the end of the month. She tries to keep her visits to the Food Bank to once per month - “I don’t want to get greedy because there’s a lot of people in need.”
Three months after moving to Colorado from Florida, Dionette, single and 50 years old, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatments and further health complications prevent her from working. Without the Food Bank, Dionette says she would have gone hungry some days. As a former restaurant owner and chef, Dionette relies on the nutritious food she receives from the Food Bank to help her fight her battle with cancer.
“I am a 63 year old woman, living on a widow's pension that is not nearly enough to see me through each month. I often have to choose between buying food and buying prescription medications. I often go without food at least 2 or 3 days, or more a month, when after paying rent, utilities, etc. the money doesn't go far enough for much else, so I don't buy food and often I have eaten a banana for a whole day, or an apple. The need is there and I never understand why most people don't see it; we senior citizens are suffering our fair share of a bad economy, lack of jobs, etc. I hate to ask my grown children for help and I don't. They don't help me much, or hardly ever.”
Idena is 93 and lives on her own. She used to have a big garden and one year donated nearly 800 pounds of produce to the Food Bank. Due to a heart condition, Idena can’t keep up with her garden anymore and can no longer can fruits and vegetables for the winter. Without help from the Food Bank, Idena couldn’t afford the fresh fruit and vegetables she enjoys so much.
Sheryl has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and can no longer work. She’s a former chef and also has a degree in forestry. Today, she lives on $700/month disability payments. Due to her illness, Sheryl is on a gluten free diet and appreciates the fact that she’s able to get gluten free items, which are often very expensive, at the Food Bank. According to Sheryl, the Food Bank “helps me get through the month.”
Keichi moved to Fort Collins 2 years ago. Trained as a certified master mechanic, he applied for many jobs, but was told he was overqualified. After a few months and with his savings drained, he ended up homeless for nearly a year. “Without [the Food Bank] I would have been hungry many days.” Today, he is going to school to become a teacher. He has enough money to pay rent, but depends on the Food Bank for fresh fruits and vegetables.