Channing knows what it’s like to choose between food and rent. She used to do it every month. “My life used to be a mess,” she said.
Several years ago, she moved to North Dakota from California. At the time, the food pantry in Dickinson saved her life. Volunteers even dropped off food for her because she usually worked during the hours it was open. That generosity and kindness made a difference. “You can’t live without food,” she said. “Without the food pantry, I would’ve gone hungry.”
In recent years, life has become more stable for Channing, her husband, and 15-year-old daughter. She has worked as a nurse’s aide. Her husband works in concrete construction. Together, they earn too much money to receive food assistance. But some months are financially tough. “There’s rent, car payment, cell phone, school things,” Channing said. “And nobody wants to eat Hamburger Helper every day.”
A month ago, the family moved from Dickinson to Richardton – about 25 miles away – to lower their housing expenses. Rent in the small town costs about $200 less a month. The size of the town also felt safer. Channing enjoys walking anywhere she wants to go. She’s not afraid to walk the streets after dark. But the decision to move came with some challenges. A promised job didn’t pan out for Channing. Her husband, who had been receiving unemployment benefits after being laid off, still hasn’t found permanent work. It’s why she participated in a mobile food pantry event in Richardton. While she loves the small-town atmosphere, it doesn’t have all the services she had grown accustomed to in Dickinson. Access to a food pantry was one of those. Channing is still looking for work and is willing to move, if necessary. She’s optimistic her husband will find a job soon, too. “That would make me sad, though,” she said. “We love it here. My daughter’s loving it here. It’s quiet and a good way of life.”