When he was younger, Steve had a good job as a cook. He enjoyed the work and expected it would be his lifetime career. But a car accident changed everything. Three friends died; Steve survived with a traumatic brain injury. Because of his injury, he suffers from anxiety and short-term memory loss, in addition to other symptoms. Those symptoms affect his every-day life, and the days of those around him. “We’ve been together 15 years,” said his wife, Leona. “He still wakes up from nightmares.”
Because of his injury, Steve is no longer able to work. He is eligible for monthly disability payments, but those don’t go far in supporting his family, which includes two children living at home: a son, who is 13, and a daughter, who is 12. Every week Steve and Leona seek out items from food pantries to stretch their food budget. The family also drives to White Earth Reservation where they can access commodities through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
Steve is a member of the Cheyenne tribe in Oklahoma. As a result, he also receives occasional dividends from oil and casino profits. Leona sells crafts like jewelry, candles, and soap to help cover expenses. Still, by the time the family pays for their mortgage, utilities, and car expenses, there is not a lot of money left. They still need to pay for personal toiletries like shampoo and toothpaste. There are clothes that need to be purchased. In addition, the couple had to find a way to pay for back-to-school expenses for their two children.
To help ease the burden, the couple researches where they can access food from local pantries. Every little bit helps. Without it, his family would likely go hungry, Steve said. “That’s why food assistance is very important,” he said. “There’s no shame in needing help.”
“There’s no shame in needing help.”
– Steve Roman