Backpack Program helps local mom and kids

December 21, 2016

Erin never imagined needing to access help in order to make ends meet. The single mom of five recently filed for divorce.

Since March she’s been on her own with children ranging in ages from five months to 13 years.

She filed a Protection From Abuse order from her husband. “He’s not supporting us and stopped paying the bills when the baby was born.”

Unfortunately, Erin didn’t find out about her family’s financial situation until four months ago when the utility company came to shut off her household’s water. Next was the electric.

Fortunately, Erin was able to save some money from a prior job at a local school cafeteria.

“I saved some money,” she explained. “I knew that my husband was very controlling financially and I needed to make that money last.”

Erin is thankful that her children’s school participate in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program.

028cropHer kids have been receiving weekend food from the program for two months now. Referred to the program by the school nurse, Erin was hesitant to enroll at first.

“Sometimes I have a hard time accepting that we are in need,” she said. “I am doing my best to keep it all together.”

She admits she still feels that other families are in more need than hers.

“We started and we love it,” she said. “My kids love it. They know there is something to eat that they like.”

If the Backpack Program wasn’t available. Erin knows her kids would be scrounging for more food.

Erin’s family receives SNAP benefits, but they only last a few weeks.

Thanks to the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, the family is able to get staples like milk, bread and eggs.

These fresh foods are always the first to go though, she said.

“When we are down to bare bones, we get into the canned vegetables, odds and ends at this point,” she explained. “I try to make my money last.”

Erin is thankful that her children’s backpacks include shelf-stable milk that can be used for cereal.

“I didn’t realize how hard it was until [the Food Bank] sent the food home,” she admits. “It’s one less thing for me to worry about. Silverware is sent home. It’s nice, it’s convenient.”

Erin says there are times she doesn’t eat parts of a meal so her kids can have more to eat.

“Right now I am trying to support ourselves with cleaning jobs, babysitting jobs,” she said.

Erin is thankful for community agencies that have been able to help her family during this difficult time.

“It helps me have hope in the future that I will be able to do better,” she said. “I will be able to do this. I just need some help in the beginning. I feel very good about my future and my children’s future.”

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please click here.

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