As a veteran of the US army and employee of Fort Monmouth for over 15 years, it’s hard to believe that John is the type of person struggling to get by. In a country that glorifies the “American Dream” and “Support Our Troops,” it’s difficult to comprehend that John doesn’t have health insurance, a car or a job.
Susan is a hard-working wife and mother of two teenage daughters. Her husband was laid off his job two years ago and has had difficulty finding a steady job. “I’m working long hours at a supermarket to help make ends meet. I’m looking for a waitress job though too.” She knows her family would be financially better off is she moved to a more affordable state. “But I could never leave my family and friends, because they’re what I value most in life.”
Steve was laid off his construction job about 8 months ago, “because I was one of the guys that had been there for the shortest time… I just didn’t plan on losing my job and my house.”
A single father: “I’ve got two teenage boys and they can put away a lot. I pay $50 more each week for groceries, and it’s not even the same amount of food. I can’t feed my family any more on what I earn.”
“We see two kinds of people,“ says Jim Drago of St. Mary’s of the Lake Pantry in Lakewood. “Those in dire poverty – the economy doesn’t affect them, because they have nothing to begin with. Fuel costs? They don’t even have cars. But we’re seeing a lot more people who are above poverty, falling behind in their utility bills. So we tell them to pay the bills first, and then use the pantry more to fill up on food.”
“When there was no food before, at least I could give them cereal for supper,” says a grandmother raising two grandchildren, “but now look at the price of milk.”
During the last year, the recession has had an impact on people seeking emergency food. More info.