Three young children impatiently wiggled in the back of Alysen’s vehicle as she waited to reach much needed food assistance through the Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry. “It won’t be too long,” she assured them, as the line of cars in front of them quickly moved along.
The food pantry event was the first of its kind in Oakes since Alysen and her husband separated. Their children, ages 8, 5, and 3, split time between the two households. She wanted to pick up food for both homes. Her decision to seek help with meals came down to simple economics. “Our costs keep going up, plus it’s more expensive to maintain two places,” she said.
The family qualifies for some child care assistance, but the parents’ incomes are too high for federal food assistance. In addition, her two oldest – both boys – have growing appetites. “We struggle a bit,” Alysen said, adding that her husband had very little food at his house for himself or the kids. “This (mobile pick-up) will help.”
“I’m grateful. Things are tough right now.”
Alysen prefers to shop at Aldi. The supermarket chain tends to be cheaper and offers a wide selection of items that don’t contain the food dyes she tries to avoid. The challenge is that the closest Aldi is about a two hour drive away. “So, we end up shopping in town a lot,” she said. “Being in a small town, it can be difficult to leave with something quick, easy, and affordable.”
Through the mobile food pantry, she received oranges, onions, potatoes and some non-perishable items. It was the second time in a month she was able to supplement her family’s food budget. A couple weeks prior, her youngest child needed to be treated for an ear infection. While at the clinic, a nurse asked if the family struggled to keep food in the house. When Alysen said they did, she was invited to select items from an adjoining food pantry as part of the Great Plains Food Bank Wellness Pantry Program. “I’m grateful,” she said. “Things are tough right now.”