"I was a mess"
The face of hunger is difficult to define and often times is the last person you might expect.
Few people know this better than Debra Way.
Debra had created a life that she was proud of. She was working full-time as a general manager at a restaurant and had successfully raised three children on her own into their adulthood. She was dating a man and they had talked of plans to get married and work toward retirement together.
Then it all started to unravel.
Around the time the youngest of her three kids left home, Debra’s future husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer and died soon thereafter. Around that same time, her father passed away and she struggled with the loss of a close pet.
“I was a mess,” she said.
She began dealing with depression and chronic health issues. Twice she was hospitalized for attempted suicide.
Living in Colorado at the time, she moved to Fargo to be near her oldest son and make an attempt to start over. She currently shares a two-bedroom apartment with her son.
Her chronic health issues prevent Debra from working full-time. Once in a management position inside the restaurant industry, she recently started a part-time job delivering pizza. The job does not require her to be on her feet for extended periods of time, which helps with her chronic back issues.
The difficult journey has come full-circle and Debra finds herself inside a Great Plains Food Bank partner food pantry.
“This place helps because I literally can’t pay all of my way,” she said while sitting inside the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo. “He (son) helped me get back on my feet and the food bank has been a huge part of that because I couldn’t contribute with a lot of income. He pays a lot of my rent so I cook for him. And so that’s how we worked it out since I can’t work full-time.”
In a situation she once never thought possible, she is eternally grateful for the food assistance provided.
“If it wasn’t for the food that helps take away some of the cost for other things, I would have to work full-time,” she said. “I want to work full-time, but I just can’t. The food makes it so I can work part-time and keep living.”