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Hunger Beat

When disability aid runs out, pantry fills in

Patty and Vince

Patty and Vince wait in line at Union Avenue Food Pantry.

In 2007, Vince Palacios underwent a 23-hour surgery after a cinderblock wall fell on him on a job site.

“Everything inside of me is messed up,” Vince said. “I’m all stitched up.”

After his surgery, Vince spent six months in the hospital and four months in rehab.

“They want me to walk with a walker or with a cane, but I don’t want that to hold me back,” Vince said.

Ten years after the surgery, Vince stood outside of Union Avenue Food Pantry, a Greater Chicago Food Depository partner agency in Canaryville, waiting in line with his partner, Patty.

Because of the accident, Vince goes to rehab once a week. Patty spends a majority of her time taking care of Vince and does odd jobs on the side.

“It’s a full time job,” Patty said.

Because of the accident, neither Patty nor Vince is able to work full-time. Vince receives disability benefits, but the check covers rent and leaves little for everything else.

Vince also utilizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps.  Because he is receiving disability, he receives less than $20 a month in SNAP benefits on his Link Card.

“Everybody hits hard times,” Patty said. “For us, once the Link Card runs out, we have to wait until the first of the month to get more food.”

Because of this, Vince and Patty walk to Union Avenue Food Pantry once a month to help cover meals until SNAP kicks in again.

“Without this pantry, we would just have to wait until the food stamps kicked in again at the beginning of the month,” Patty said. “It saves us every month.”

Union Ave Food Pantry has had its doors open for 22 years. Vince and Patty are just some of the hundred or so people that the pantry serves every Wednesday.

“If you aren’t smiling when you go in the pantry, you will be smiling when you leave,” Patty said.

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