I (Sue) will never forget visiting a Latino immigrant family, opening the refrigerator, and finding . . . but wait! Let me back up.
In LUCHA Ministries and especially through our Cinco Panes food assistance program, we try to keep an eye on the more vulnerable families. It’s hard, no matter who you are or the color of your skin, to ask for help, to let people know that you can’t pay the rent — again. Or that your electricity is being cut off. Or that you don’t have money to put more minutes on your pay-as-you-go phone and that’s why it doesn’t work. Or that you need food. We are embarrassed to find ourselves in a position where we have to ask for help.
That’s the reason I stopped by this Latino family’s trailer on that cold winter day a few years ago, just to check on them. I knew that Juanita’s* 12-year-old son, Eduardo,* who has cerebral palsy, had been sick quite a bit during the winter, and she had missed a lot of work. Juanita had recently left an abusive spouse and was trying to make it on her own as a single mom, but it was hard. Because of her immigration status, only the youngest of her three children qualifies for SNAP (food stamps). Juanita was struggling to make ends meet, and I was concerned about her and the children.
On that particular day, I had been to the food bank and was making deliveries. Somehow, I had miscalculated and had an extra box of groceries in my car. I decided to stop at Juanita’s home to see if she would like to have the food. Her eyes filled with tears, and she said, “Here, let me show you something.”
Now we’re back to where this story started. Juanita took me to the refrigerator, I opened it, and there was a half-gallon milk jug, a jar of grape jelly, and a tub of butter. That’s it. “How did you know we needed food?” Juanita asked. “The kids eat at school, and I was hoping to pick up a paycheck and go to the store, but . . .” Her voice broke and trailed off as the tears began to run down her cheeks.
Through our Cinco Panes food assistance program, LUCHA Ministries helps families like Juanita’s who are going through hard times. Each food delivery provides a family of four with enough food for a month, including rice, beans, Maseca, cooking oil, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and several kid-friendly items, like frozen pizzas or cookies. Families who do not receive other types assistance receive priority.
Our Latino immigrant families struggle greatly in this country, and we’ve started Cinco Panes as one way to support them with dignity and respect. Today, Juanita is one of LUCHA’s frequent volunteers with Cinco Panes, helping pick up, package, and sort food for delivery to other families in need. What a wonderful circle of life we are sharing in!
*Names have been changed