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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: 'The pantry has been a lifesaver'

Colleen Chavez and her husband are getting back on their feet.
Seven years ago, Colleen Chavez’s life took a turn she never expected: she lost her job. Colleen used to work in a warehouse 36 hours per week, putting together boxes. She and her husband were making good money to support their four children. Soon after Colleen was laid off in 2007, her husband also lost his job as a carpenter. Without any income, and for the first time in their lives unsure of their future, the couple needed to turn to food assistance to feed their family.

They found the Union Avenue Food Pantry in Canaryville soon after.

“The pantry has literally been a lifesaver,” Colleen said. “I get stuff there that goes a really long way, like chicken, beans, rice, eggs - all the necessities.”

Since she was laid off, Colleen has been unable to find a new job. But, her husband had more success – he was just hired in a machine shop. He’s now working six days a week, waking up early and staying late to help the family.

“We’re trying to get back on our feet right now,” Colleen said. “We’re just making it with our gas and electric bills, but it’s pretty tight.”

Colleen volunteers at Union Avenue once or twice a month, but she dedicates most of her days to job searching. In fact, she is usually up by 2:30 a.m. to start the search online, before getting her children off to school.

“Don’t ask me how I do it. I just have to. It’s a must. I need a job desperately right now to help support my family,” she said. “But the pantry gives us that little extra that lets us keep our heads up.”

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