SNAP Spotlight on Nancy Carriveau
As program director for the Great Plains Food Bank, Nancy Carriveau works every day with farmers, grocers and manufacturers who donate food to the distribution center.
She is grateful for every donation because she personally knows the stress and anxiety that accompany families and individuals who don’t have enough to eat.
She was a SNAP recipient for a few months before and after the birth of her oldest child, who is now 6.
“For my family, SNAP kept our heads above water until my partner and I could both find full-time work,” she says. “We worked ourselves out of the system, but that wouldn’t have been possible without assistance.”
Nancy had a four-year college degree and lots of student loans when she and her partner, Caleb, moved to Duluth, Minn., because they liked the community. Unfortunately, the economy there wasn’t as robust as they one they were accustomed to in Fargo-Moorhead.
Nancy, who was pregnant, found a job as a server in a restaurant, which paid decently but didn’t offer any paid time off or maternity leave benefits. Her partner was a carpenter who found occasional work.
“We wanted to build a life there, but we were scraping by to just pay bills,” she says.
Because of their income, Nancy was eligible for WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children. The couple also received SNAP benefits for six months. Shortly after the birth of their son, they decided to return to Fargo where grandparents could help out with childcare and jobs were more readily available.
“I felt ashamed that I was on SNAP,” Nancy says. “I was a woman with a four-year degree and wondered why I couldn’t take care of my family. And, yet, SNAP helped us be less stressed. I could focus on being a healthy mom for my child.”
Once the couple moved back to Fargo, Caleb quickly secured a carpentry job. Nancy started as a server at Fargo’s Hotel Donaldson and eventually worked her way up to building manager.
Today the couple have two children and two successful careers. Receiving SNAP benefits made all the difference.
“I wish we could have a judgment-free zone of our neighbors,” Nancy says. “Sometimes it takes a community to build a community. Just because you get help doesn’t mean it needs to be long-term. It might just give someone that security they need to change directions or find something better.”