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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: A holiday meal

Marguerite Jacobs lives in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood and receives food from a Mobile Pantry distribution near her home.
Christmas was only days away, and Marguerite Jacobs feared she wouldn’t have anything to put on the table for her four children.

Unemployed, Marguerite has been looking for a job for months with no luck. She struggles to get by, and tries to make ends meet with the $400 she gets per month in SNAP benefits. But, it’s nearly the end of the month, and her benefits were almost gone.

“I don’t get the new SNAP benefits until the seventh of each month,” she said. “What can I do? What am I going to do in the meantime to feed my family?”

Marguerite lives on the far South Side of Chicago in Altgeld Gardens; a community isolated on three sides by a wastewater treatment facility, the Little Calumet River, and the Bishop Ford Freeway. Because of its location, nearby food is expensive, and getting to full grocery stores can be difficult.

“A lot of people who live here don’t have a way to the store at all,” Marguerite said. “Taking two or three buses and then trying to carry groceries back just doesn’t work.”

On Thursday, Marguerite found out she would not need to worry about her holiday meals. A Greater Chicago Food Depository Mobile Pantry at Altgeld Gardens distributed fresh fruit, vegetables, shelf-stable items, and turkeys.

“This is an absolute blessing,” Marguerite said. “With prices going up, turkeys around here cost at least $65. I just can’t afford that.”

Now, Marguerite will have a meal to serve her family on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

“I’ll cut it in half, cook one half for Christmas and then save the other half for the following week,” she said. It’s just an incredible gift.”

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