This entry was written by guest blogger Tina, a freelance writer living in Southwestern Connecticut, who struggles to make ends meet, despite work as a freelance writer and efforts to find full-time employment. If you or someone you know has a story about a personal experience as someone in need of food assistance, share your story with us.
This morning after writing, I put together a fruit bowl. In a medium, shiny, red lacquer, metal mixing bowl, I carefully arranged green apples, oranges, black grapes, and bright yellow bananas. It was lovely to look at, and I thanked God for the food, especially the fruit.
Fruit is not cheap, nor is it easy to get when you are a single parent living on a tight budget. But fruit is healthy, and I want my child to eat the healthiest food I can afford, except for an occasional cup of cocoa or treat, but it’s not easy.
My name is Tina. I am a resident of Ansonia. I am a 51-year-old single mother and a freelance writer. Some people freelance by choice; I do not. I cannot find full time stable work. Some weeks I might get two writing assignments, three if I am extremely lucky. However, most weeks it is only one, except where there are none.
I have been looking for a stable full-time job since my last job that I had in 2008 as a reporter. I had to leave because of a car accident on the highway during a snow storm in January. I have since been sending out resumes, cover letters, making phone calls, going on interviews and networking- all to no avail; I cannot find a full-time job. I keep getting told that I am over qualified or the company is looking at other candidates better suited for the position.
I am what politicians like to call the long term unemployed, but that’s not true. I work hard looking for writing assignments and harder looking for full time work. I try to accept all writing assignments, but currently my car is not working. I have to rent cars to get to stories, which further cuts into available money to pay bills and buy food. However, my child will never go hungry, ever.
I started coming to the mobile food pantry because the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) does not seem to last the entire month. Although I am very grateful to receive the assistance, I find like most people in this program that the SNAP does not last the whole month nor does their pay. There is always that last week where SNAP runs out and money must be taken from what is budgeted for a utility, or the rent has to be pushed up another week, or I have to hand wash laundry.
I have come to learn that most people here at the GROW Truck have that same problem, either their SNAP runs out or their pay can’t stretch the whole month to buy food. No one has ever told me they hand wash laundry; I don’t ask.
I am writing to whoever reads this in order to put a face to a person who struggles with food insecurity. Most of us either work, are looking for work, or have worked our whole lives. We are not just “takers” as some cruel social media posts have claimed. We are parents and people who struggle, but not just looking for a hand-out.
The morning I discovered in Derby Library the flyer for the GROW Truck I was trying to figure out the minimum I have to eat so I can afford more nutritious food for my growing 13-year-old son. I was willing to eat less, or go hungry, to get more healthy food for him.
I am grateful to the SNAP program and to my country for providing the program. I just wish it would increase for myself and others who need it. I am grateful to the Connecticut Food Bank for the help it provides me to obtain healthy food for my child. Nutritious food is important; it keeps us healthy.
For now, I step back and admire my red fruit bowl. Although food is hard to afford, for now the red fruit bowl is full.