I had to go to the food pantry this month. Last month as well. I try not to, I refuse to, unless I have no other option. I have two daughters and they need to eat, but I feel like the pantry is for people who need it more.
There are two in town that I have been to.
The Community Action Program office is the main one, but they almost never really have anything. They are open week days from 1-2. They almost never have meat, and rarely have anything that I can eat.
The red church down the street is much better stocked. They run Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-11 am Wednesdays 6-7 pm and have a bread and produce line on Saturday mornings. This is the one I will usually visit if I have to, while my little one is in preschool, on a Tuesday morning. The volunteers are always cheerful, and the other people in line wait with me to check in and be given a number, they tell me their stories as we wait, and then, as we are called, one by one, we go to the little door, and tell the woman how many people. How many over sixty, how many under eighteen. They pack the boxes, occasionally checking in to ask whether we want rice or pasta, peas or beans, tuna? When I carry my box to my car I feel guilty.
This isn’t for me.
I shouldn’t be here.
Other people need it more than I do.
I should eat less so the girls can have more… but I eat one meal most days as it is.
Preschool feeds my little one two meals each day.
I only have the teenager alternate weekends.
I should be able to feed my girls with the $180 we have for food each month.
Somehow, I can’t sometimes. Usually, it is just barely enough and we squeak by. Until last month, I hadn’t gone since July, but then something happened, and I had the teenager for a while… and the girls eat so much it scares me. They are both so thin, I don’t know how they eat as much as they do. And this month… this month is Thanksgiving. This means they have less school this month and I am running out of food. I don’t want to have to go to the other pantry. I will do what I can to make what I have work.
Next month is Christmas. I have found ways to get the presents I have to get. I tell myself I will find ways to get the food we need as well.
Often I am given food I can not use.
I donate it back.
Somehow, that makes me feel a bit less guilty when I have to go to them. They are always understanding, always kind, I never see any judgment in their eyes, no… the judgment is all in my own heart.