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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: 'We just didn't have any food'

Steve Polzak relies on the Greater Chicago Food Depository Mobile Pantry in Sauk Village for fruit, vegetables and shelf-stable goods.
Steve Polzak, 58, grasped the handle of a rolling cooler with one hand, and his cane in the other. It was a radiant, clear afternoon in South Suburban Sauk Village, and Steve was visiting a Greater Chicago Food Depository Mobile Pantry at Emmanuel Church.

Steve was receiving fresh carrots, potatoes, onions, collard greens and bread at the distribution. He and his wife go to the Mobile Pantry every few months, since times got tough.

“I didn’t have any breakfast today because we just didn’t have any food,” Steve said. “This helps tremendously.”

Steve got into a car accident about 10 years ago and severely injured his back. He had to go on permanent disability and was no longer able to work in his job at a warehouse. Since the accident, paying for related medical issues has drained his family’s savings account. 

Steve’s wife was also laid off from her job in information technology three years ago, and has since gone on disability. Swamped by mortgage payments and medical bills, the couple has trouble affording food.

“The only thing I’ve eaten recently was a scrambled egg sandwich,” Steve said. “That’s holding up right now pretty well but if it weren’t for this I’m not sure what we’d be doing.”

Steve is relying heavily on the Mobile Pantry this month because he is in the process of renewing his SNAP benefits and is out of funds on his family’s Link card.

“There’s literally nothing in our pantry right now,” Steve said. “Now that we have this food, we’ll be able to pull something together for dinner tonight and for the rest of the week.”

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