Helen and Mario visit the MORE Center Food Pantry in Marengo twice a month to get food for their young family – they have two children: Atalayah (age 3) and Mario Jr., who just turned 1 in January.
Helen says Atalayah looks forward to the granola bars as well as some vegetables, and that she also absolutely loves the milk they receive here. Being able to feed her children healthy food is very important to Helen, who mentions that her family has a history of health issues such as diabetes and various heart conditions, so she tries to choose healthier options for her children when they have a sugar craving, such as an apple or banana with peanut butter.
Unexpected medical bills have made it difficult for Helen and Mario to make ends meet. “[The food pantry has] been helpful. Before, I would eat once a day so that my kids could eat. With this help, it’s been great.”
Helen shares that she and Mario moved their family to the area from Chicago in search of a better life – it’s quieter here, the kids can play outside safely in the many parks, and she says their neighborhood has a much greater sense of community.
“It’s just an all-around better environment for my children to grow up in,” she adds.
Up until a few months ago, Mario was the family’s main provider, working as a laborer with metals and materials. He severely injured his hand on the job and is currently unable to work, thus making it difficult for them to make ends meet. To add to the stress, he is unsure if or when his company could decide to let him go permanently.
And although Helen is physically able to work, she doesn’t have a form of reliable transportation to get to and from the opportunities she is qualified for. On top of that, they cannot afford to keep both kids in a daycare setting, making their trips to MORE Center Food Pantry all the more meaningful.
“Thank you for giving from your heart – [because of you], I will be able to feed my kids another day. I really appreciate that.”