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Hunger Beat

Making the choice between loans or groceries

Latasha Williams

When LaTasha's work hours are cut, the Chosen Tabernacle Full Gospel food pantry helps her provide meals for herself and her mother.

LaTasha Williams earned her medical coding degree in 2015. Three years later, she still hasn't been able to find a job in her field. "I thought my degree was going to be an investment, but now instead of getting a job, I am just contacted to pay my loans," LaTasha said. "If don't have any money to give them, they garnish my checks. How can I give them money if I don't even have enough to eat?" LaTasha is scheduled to work 20 hours a week at her delivery job. Last week, she worked five hours. The week before, she worked zero. LaTasha’s last paycheck was $45. "I drive half an hour away, just to get sent home," LaTasha said. "I can't afford the gas money, but my boss doesn't see it that way. If they aren't busy, I don't get paid." She says she makes the drive because of the hope she will be asked to stay. LaTasha applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with the help of the Greater Chicago Food Depository's benefits outreach team to help her buy the basics like dairy products.
"A paycheck diminishes really quickly at the grocery store," LaTasha says. "I can't afford to eat what you should. Everything is so expensive."
She also fills in the gaps by visiting the food pantry at Chosen Tabernacle Full Gospel. LaTasha lives with her mom, who has a medical condition. "SNAP doesn't always reach you to the end of the month," LaTasha said. "It will give you a lot of the essentials, but this pantry helps make sure my mom and I are able to eat, even if I can't always make ends meet." LaTasha is consistently looking for a new position, but she doesn't want to jeopardize the job she has now. "There is no guarantee there is another one around the corner," LaTasha said. "It's hard, but I hope it gets better. You have to hope it gets better. How can you complain, if you don't have anything?" The Food Depository's Benefits Outreach team helps Cook County residents apply for SNAP. Learn more here.

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