Would You Be Surprised?

Aug 20, 2015
By Jane Doyle

So many people have “misconceptions” about the homeless population or people who utilize food pantries. Northern Illinois Food Bank (whom we donated 500 pounds of groceries to in June), recently posted this story on a family utilizing a food pantry served by Northern Illinois Food Bank. I hope you’ll find it enlightening.

 Amanda knows the challenges lack of transportation can have on a family, particularly a family struggling to make ends meet. Last November, the mother of six walked the five miles from her home to Wayne Township Food Pantry to be sure her family had food for the Thanksgiving holiday. “I was so grateful when a township employee gave me a ride home,” she said.’

 Amanda’s husband works construction and work is inconsistent, so she is grateful for the food she receives at Wayne Township Food Pantry. “There are times when if I didn’t have the food pantry, I don’t know what I’d do,” she said, adding that, “whenever I come home with food the kids [four boys and two girls] all start tearing through the bags, wondering what I brought home.”

On the day we met Amanda at the Mobile Pantry Wayne Township Food Pantry was hosting, her eldest daughter, Alexis, 13, was with her. When asked what she was hoping to find on the Mobile Pantry that day, Alexis answered, “candy.” While she didn’t find candy, Alexis’ eyes lit up when she was offered boxes of chocolate chip granola bars.

Sixty-nine percent of households that rely on Northern Illinois Food Bank’s network of food pantries and feeding programs for the nutritious food they need to live healthy and active lives have reported having to choose between paying for food or paying for transportation in the past year. Not having a car in the suburbs, where there is no public transportation system, is a real struggle for families like Amanda’s. It affects all of her scheduling and planning. And, when an emergency comes up, the lack of having a car often means having to spend money they may not have, or that was earmarked for a bill, on things like a taxi.

“My daughter was sick at school one day and I had no way to get there. I had to call a cab to bring her home,” Amanda said. Missing the school bus in the morning may mean a missed day of school.

“I walk or ride my bike as needed, and I don’t come to the food pantry unless I really need it. It’s hard to have to ask the neighbors to drive me,” Amanda said.