Brenda has lived out in the county for over twenty years. Her ex-husband hasn’t worked in over two, leaving her with no child support for her three young children. She’s struggled to keep up with the house payments and been in danger of foreclosure for months, this despite working two jobs. She’s been coming to the High Ridge Area Food Bank at the First Baptist Church of God for just under a year. Her longtime friend Martin also attends Food Bank and encouraged her to accept the help. Brenda resisted for a while but she felt under the circumstances it sounded like the smart thing to do. She learned the food not only supplements her family’s monthly food stamp allotment, but helps to keep the roof over her family’s head. Brenda also looks forward to coming to Food Bank where she not only sees people who have become new friends, but now also helps with the set up and distribution of food. She says “As long as I’m helping, bringing the food home has a whole different meaning.”
Martin doesn’t have a car and is currently homeless. He’s sleeping in the woods by the river. He knows Brenda from when she tutored him years ago. She helped him earn his GED. Brenda picks him up once a month and brings him to Food Bank. Martin was concerned about talking to us because he brings his food to the local homeless shelter and stores it in their refrigerator. It’s a good arrangement he says and he didn’t want to get anyone “in trouble” because he knows they’re bending the rules for him. He stops there most days to eat, accessing the food and using the microwave. Unfortunately we didn’t see Martin for a couple of months. Nobody did, not even Brenda. We found out later he was sick with the shingles. As he tells it the hospital refused to treat him, so he made way back to his tent and didn’t leave. Luckily he returned to Food Bank and seems to be recuperating nicely.
Due to her advanced age and need for a motorized wheelchair, Dahlia takes the SpecTrans bus from southern Springfield all the way into town to Food Bank. She picks up food for several family members and never misses a month. After the volunteers fill the food bags, Dahlia sits and helps breaks down boxes and shares recipes and conversation with other regulars. From what she says, it’s because of the High Ridge Area Food Bank that her table is never without a hot meal. Dahlia utilizes every item she receives in the most imaginable way, and she’s right proud of it too. Last month she showed up with a friendly neighbor couple who recently became needy themselves, and they were quite shy about being there. They said they never in their lives had to ask anyone for help. He became recently unemployed after being at the same job for over thirty years. Dahlia’s friends felt truly blessed and a little overwhelmed at being able to get the help and best of all it looks like they’ll be able to drive Dahlia “if things don’t turn around soon”. This way she’ll no longer have to ride the SpecTrans bus.