To hear Julio explain it, he and his wife are getting by with what they have, but that wouldn’t be possible without the support of Salvation Army Food Pantry and other agencies like it in his hometown of DeKalb.
For more than a year, Julio has worked for a temp agency and bounced from one job to another. The circumstances represent a change of pace from the steady job he had working in maintenance for a hotel in suburban Lombard. The round trip to Lombard took its toll, though, as transportation problems with an old vehicle forced Julio to leave the position. Given the family’s limited income, Julio and his wife struggle to keep up with bills, particularly during the winter when utility expenses are high.
“You have to pay for your vehicle insurance, your phone bill, your electricity, your gas, your rent, your internet payment,” Julio said. “It’s stuff you absolutely need. For example, I need the internet because I’m always looking for work, and I’m always checking my e-mails to see if I’m hearing back from people.”
Medical expenses are an additional concern for Julio’s wife, who is asthmatic and relies on a nebulizer. The couple also supports Julio’s 22-year-old brother-in-law, who is developmentally disabled. Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Julio moved to the Chicago area 25 years ago. In DeKalb, he has found a community full of support. Julio and his wife give back when they can by volunteering at Open Closet in DeKalb, which provides free clothes and shoes to families in need.
The idea of a community safety net isn’t lost on Julio as he browses the shelves at Salvation Army Food Pantry and picks out a wide range of items provided by Northern Illinois Food Bank. “I come here once a month to get what I need,” Julio said. “It’s enough to hold us over. And it’s not just this pantry, but all of the pantries in the community. DeKalb has a lot of help available.”
Julio particularly appreciates the chicken breast tenderloins he adds to his cart, saying the large packet of frozen meat will help provide several meals. “There is always good pickings at this food pantry,” Julio said. “My wife likes the cranberry juice, and you get a lot of good canned fruits. I’m happy with whatever meat I can get, and everything is always high quality.”