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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: Friendship and food

Once a month, Luisa and Marie come to the Greater Chicago Food Depository's Producemobile distribution in Chicago Heights.
Luisa and Marie are best friends. They live on the same street in Chicago Heights and their children go to the same school. They have a lot in common – including the fact that they are both struggling to afford food.

“The money I have left over each month is so little for food,” said Marie, who is looking for a job, while her husband works 60 hours per week as a steel worker to support their 14-year-old daughter and two sons.

Meanwhile, Luisa’s situation is similar. She is trying to find work so that she can support her two children, after being laid off from a job in a supermarket.

“Before I eat, I make sure that my kids eat, because sometimes we don’t have enough for everyone,” said Luisa. “And if I don’t get anything, I’ll wait for the next day. That’s just how it works out.”

On the fourth Thursday of every month, Marie picks up Luisa and they go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Producemobile distribution at the Chicago Heights Park District building.

“Spinach, kale, tomatoes, most produce is too expensive for me to afford at the store,” said Marie. “I just have to walk right by it. Which is why it’s helpful to get healthy food at the Producemobile.”

For Luisa, receiving fresh produce at the distribution is critical, especially in the winter.

“My food budget becomes minimal when I’m paying for utilities. Sometimes I’ll pay only half of my utility bill just to afford food,” she said.

Ultimately, the Producemobile not only fills a need for food in Luisa and Marie’s lives, it also reminds them that friendship can help weather any situation.

“This is a humbling experience, no question,” Marie said. “But it’s better when we can come together.”

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