Anything for family
For Kari Thomas, monitoring the family’s finances is a daily occurrence. There are times when the Bismarck family of four has $100 that they need to make last for two weeks.
“We are at that income bracket level where we are living paycheck to paycheck but we don’t qualify for many benefits,” Kari said. “Sometimes it’s tough to make it.”
She speaks lovingly about her family. Her husband works hard as a road supervisor for Bis-Man Transit where he makes $16 per hour. Multiple back surgeries forced Kari out of her job as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) as she is attempting to re-enter the workforce in a new career. They have a 10-year-old daughter they look after and a 21-year-old son with autism that has recently moved away from the home.
When the months come when the cupboards become bare, Kari has found useful food assistance from a pair of Great Plains Food Bank programs and services – a partner food pantry and BackPack Program.
“It makes such a difference,” Kari said as she sat outside the food pantry at the Salvation Army of Bismarck-Mandan. “Today the food that I went shopping for I was able to pick out things that I know my family will eat and I know the food is fresh. It enables us to make ends meet.”
She is thankful for the assistance provided for her daughter as well. She is able to receive reduced cost lunches through the Free and Reduced Cost School Lunch Program and is a part of the BackPack Program at her school.
The backpack that she receives each Friday during the school year filled with snacks and meals has become a favorite for the family.
“The first time she brought it home she was just excited to pillage through that thing,” Kari said. “There were snacks and healthy choices in there. There were things we don’t normally get. It was almost like opening up a little surprise bag. It was food to get us through.”
And all of the food assistance has been crucial for the family to make it through difficult months.