Meet your neighbors who are now facing hunger during the pandemic

Courtney and 4-year-old Carter hugging in the parking lot of a food pantry
March 11, 2021
by Paul Morello

From California to New York, Minneapolis to Miami. Young or old. Working or unemployed. Healthy or sick. More than 44 million people face hunger. And over the past year, COVID-19 has reminded us that anyone, at any time, in any circumstance, could need a little extra help keeping food on the table. 

Meet a few of your neighbors we met during the past year who were brave enough to share their stories of how the coronavirus pandemic has changed their lives.

Courtney, a mental health professional who lost her job during the pandemic…

“I thought pantries were for people who were less fortunate, but anybody could be less fortunate in a day or in a second,” Courtney said.

When the COVID pandemic swept across Richmond, Virginia in the spring of 2020, Courtney (pictured above) lost her job as a supervisor at a group home. 

Her 4-year-old son Carter loves to eat fruit, but she couldn’t afford to buy it for him without an income.

Four months passed before she found a new job in mental health skill-building. The pay wasn’t as good, but one of her clients told her about Ephesus Food Pantry, which works with Feed More Food Bank. The pantry now helps fill in the gaps.  And it was especially important this past holiday.

“I’m glad they’re giving greens,” she said, as she loaded up her car with a Thanksgiving meal she’d prepare for her family. “When I came I thought, well, I can use this, especially during a pandemic.”

Gabriel and Constancia with a cart of food from a food pantry

A couple who used to be the ones helping seniors, but now need some help...

Gabriel and Constancia like to do almost everything together. Before the pandemic, the two both worked for an organization that brought food to seniors in Washington, D.C. Constancia helped prepare the food, and Gabriel delivered it.

“It is a joy to help others,” Constancia said. 

When a stay-at-home order went into effect in D.C., they lost their jobs on the same day.

“We have zero in the bank. We have no resources other than this place,” Gabriel said of a pantry working with Capital Area Food Bank, where they’ve been coming since the end of March. 

“It’s a blessing to come here. It’s our grocery store,” he said. 

Constancia is a great cook, he added. She makes Gabriel’s favorite American foods as well as dishes from the Philippines where she was born.

The couple, who have been married for six years, said they had never needed food assistance before the pandemic. “God has blessed us through the years,” he said. “We have a house over our heads and no medical problems.” 

The pandemic has “been painful. It’s been a hard experience, but we stick together,” Gabriel said.

Maryann holding her 7-year-old daughter
Mary Ann needed a little extra help from a college pantry after losing her job because of the pandemic.

A mom who went back to school to help her family but then lost her job because of COVID…

When Mary Ann lost her job because of the COVID pandemic, her first thought was her 7-year-old daughter. 

"How will we be able to provide for everything she needs?" she remembered thinking. Mary Ann is a student at Northern Michigan University who went back to school to brighten her family's future. But with only her husband's income, the family began to struggle.

Feeding America West Michigan, works with the college’s food pantry to serve the student community each month. When Mary Ann realized she needed a little extra help, she began visiting the college pantry. She was thankful to receive a box full of healthy, shelf-stable options and even some produce. 

Today, Mary Ann is picking up more work and doesn't need to visit the pantry as much -- but she's thankful the option was there, right when she needed it most. 

“We have all learned to slow down and enjoy each and every minute together,” Mary Ann said. “We could not have done it without the help of NMU’s food pantry.”

In 2020, Feeding America and its network of food banks distributed 6 billion meals to people like Courtney and Carter, Maryann and her family, and Gabriel and Constancia. Inspired by their stories? Meet some of the heroes ensuring our neighbors have food during the pandemic, and then make a difference by Donating to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, where 100 percent of donations are going to support food banks across the country.