Zoey

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Zoey in red and white striped t-shirt and blue jeans sitting on ground
Zoey's Story
West Monroe,
Louisiana

8-year-old Zoey is bubbly, friendly, and vibrates with energy. She's a pretty normal kid - she loves to play outside, go to the park, draw and hang out with her four siblings and her parents, Mikel and Tiffany.

She also adores animals. And when she grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian.

"I want to help animals," she said. "They're my dream to take care of."

But before Zoey can be a veterinarian, she needs to grow up healthy and strong. And for her family, that can be hard because there's not a lot of food in the fridge to feed everyone.

Mikel, Zoey's dad, spent eight years in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Iraq. Because of his time in the military, he is disabled but tried to fill the gaps taking jobs as a part-time mechanic. And Tiffany, Zoey's mom, stays home to take care of her and her four siblings.

Without a consistent income, money - and food- can be hard to come by for the family.

"We eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner sometimes because there isn't much food in our house," Zoey admitted. "My mom and dad have to go without just so that us kids can have food in our stomachs."

And that sacrifice isn't lost on Zoey.

"It makes me sad," she said. "Because it's either I can eat their food or I don't eat at all."

But the family isn't alone. They visit a food pantry near their home in Monroe, Louisiana. The pantry works with the Food Bank of Northeast Louisana, a member of the Feeding America network.

"The food bank helps us because it gives us food to eat," Zoey said. "It gives us cereal and milk. It gives us lunch and dinner too."

Zoey knows how important it is to have the food she does from the pantry.

"Food makes you healthy, it makes you strong and it helps you grow," she said.

And despite the family's struggles, Zoey stays positive. Her energy and hope shine through even in the most challenging of times.

"My family is big. But if I had a wish for them, it would be that we all have food to eat."

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