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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: 'I have about $5 left'

Before he retired, Mike Berilla was a retail store manager and auditor. His Social Security isn't enough to support his family so he goes to a Food Depository pantry in South Chicago Heights.
Mike Berilla is retired. But for him, retirement doesn’t come with the financial security that many would hope for.

He and his wife are struggling to get by on his $1,000 per month in Social Security, and her income working as a part-time tax clerk.

“I’m supposed to get my Social Security check this week,” he said. “That’ll help a lot, because right now I have about $5 left for food.”

Before Mike retired, he worked as a retail store manager and an insurance auditor. But, his savings haven't been enough to get by every month. He wants to go back to work to help take the burden off his wife but has been unable to find a job.

“It’s been rough, especially with the increased utility costs this winter,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been coming to Alicia’s House pantry for the last few months.”

At the pantry, a Greater Chicago Food Depository member agency in South Chicago Heights, Mike receives bags of shelf-stable items, as well as meat and fresh fruit and vegetables.

“It’s tough to make ends meet for my family, but you just have to live within your means,” Mike said. “This pantry helps me do that.”

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