Before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the region and country into a tailspin, Jode and Roger Beuchene were living comfortably. Jode was working part-time running a karaoke business in the Fargo-Moorhead area and Roger was retired after working for more than 30 years in the dining centers at North Dakota State University.
Even after Roger suffered a series of strokes in 2018 that forced Jode to cut back her work to part-time to become Roger’s caregiver, the means were still there to put food on the table and money was in the bank. The couple was happy in their lives.
Then earlier this spring COVID-19 hit the region.
“It kind of tossed us like a salad,” Jode explains.
When Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered the shutdown of bars and restaurants throughout the state, Jode lost all income from her karaoke business in Minnesota and her work in North Dakota took a hit as well.
The couple quickly struggled keeping food on the table.
“Pre-COVID we were doing fine. Everything was fine,” Jode said. “I remember the first weekend of COVID I was supposed to work that whole weekend then everything was shut down. Things can change just like that.”
The couple said they have applied twice to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, but were denied due to the combination of income from Roger’s Social Security benefits and pension being too high.
Jode wishes there would be more assistance available for those in her situation.
“I think the income guidelines need to go up for those that fall through the cracks like we do,” she said. “It’s not only us. It’s a lot of people out there in our situation.”
Without the possibility of assistance from SNAP, the couple needed to find alternatives to meet their nutritional needs and recently attended a Great Plains Food Bank distribution of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program in Fargo where they were able to acquire high-quality fresh produce items.
That food assistance has become crucial to helping the couple during this unprecedented time.
“We have been doing ok,” Jodee said with a sigh. “But with Roger’s health, we are living day-to-day. We don’t know when we will be back to normal.”