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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: 'Our fridge is empty'

Jose Lopez and his children head home after receiving fresh produce at the children's school.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, Jose Lopez was picking his children up from school in the Pilsen neighborhood. He was also picking up food for his family.

“Our fridge is literally empty right now. I don’t know what we’d do without this,” Jose said.

Jose was attending a Healthy Kids Market distribution, which is a market-style food distribution inside schools across Cook County. He was receiving fresh fruit and vegetables, including oranges, apples, pears, peppers, potatoes, and carrots. He was also receiving shelf-stable items at the distribution.

Jose is working two jobs, one in maintenance and one at a storage company. He has four school-age children, which he and his wife are raising. Because of Jose’s two jobs, the family does not qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, but they are still struggling.

“Trying to pay the bills, paying rent, utilities, all the maintenance and daily expenses, plus raising children, it’s hard to get by,” he said.

But, with help from Food Depository programs like the Healthy Kids Market, Jose is able to keep his children fed, and ensure their success in school.

“My children are all honor roll students, and it’s in large part because of the food we get here,” Jose said. “It keeps them going.”

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