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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: Food or bills?

Pearline Hudson, 62, gets supplemental food from the St. James Food Pantry.
With more than 860,000 people in Cook County struggling to find food each day, there are countless stories to tell. Starting this week, the Greater Chicago Food Depository is striving to tell 52 stories of the people we serve in 52 weeks.

“Do I eat or do I pay my medical bills?”

That’s a question 62-year-old Pearline Hudson needed to face after being diagnosed with breast cancer recently. Pearline is quickly using up her savings paying medical bills and can’t afford to buy all the food she needs.

“I have so many medical bills so right now I’m kind of struggling,” she said.

But, with the help of the St. James Food Pantry, a Greater Chicago Food Depository agency in the Douglas neighborhood, Pearline can focus on getting better and not worry about where she’s going to get her next meal. Pearline has been getting fresh fruit, vegetables and meat from the pantry for the last five months.

“Despite my situation, I make sure to stay positive,” she said. “Places like (St. James) help me have a better quality of life.”

Pearline is not alone. St. James pantry coordinator Cathy Moore said the agency has seen an increase over the last few months in the number of older adults it serves.

“Our overall clients have leveled out, but we continue to see more older adults coming in needing food assistance,” she said.

The pantry serves more than 1,500 families per month.

“There are other people here who have problems like mine, but you just have to look at it in a positive light and go from there,” Pearline said.

See more stories of those affected by hunger on Facebook. Please consider donating to the Greater Chicago Food Depository as we strive to end hunger in Cook County.

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