|By Victoria Aldrich, Kerrville Daily Times, Texas|
That task has become harder and harder through the years as food and living costs have spiraled.
Barely taller than a shopping cart, the lively grandmother of two picked up her regular load of groceries Thursday at the
The food bank distributes canned food items, meats, vegetables and other basic supplies recipients cook at home.
"We love beans, and I make my own flour tortillas, so that saves money on bread," Pollock said. "I love to cook outside. We put the beans in a big pot, and they taste just like they were cooked inside."
She's not alone. "How Hungry is America?," a report published by the national group the
One in six Americans require assistance in feeding their families, through federal assistance programs, private or non-profit food banks, community food drives and other sources. That 17.2-percent statistic is the lowest since 2008, when the survey began.
Only one in 11 families in
Fourteen of the top 20 states were found in the South and West, including
One in five
Cole is concerned about proposals to reduce or restrict access to the federal
"It is unacceptable that
Poverty trickles down to children, as well.
Working families are the largest group CAM assists according to spokeswoman
"We see families where both parents are working, but they are underemployed, and can't make ends meet," Pratt said. "Disabled adults and those with chronic medical conditions are the next largest group."
The agency also provides clothing and medication assistance, but helping residents with utility bills has become a sizable concern. Families often choose between paying an electric bill or buying food, program coordinator
"On a slow day we'll do 20 families; on a busy day, we'll do 50," Schiavo said. "Energy and food are the two biggies. Most of them live in trailers or poorly insulated houses, so an energy bill might be two or three times what my house will be."
CAM assisted 1,642 families and 2,111 individuals,
In 2014, the agency helped 7,278 families and 8,512 individuals, a total of 21,520.
"It will go up and down throughout the year," Schiavo said. "In the summertime, we will have an increase in not only the number of families, but the number of people, because a lot of the time, grandkids come to stay with grandma and grandpa, or maybe just grandma. They need help. You also have multiple generations of a family that are living in the house."
Choosing between bills and food has been a problem 53-year-old
When she worked for a church, Sanchez used to head up a food drive.
"It's ironic that I am here now," Sanchez said as she waited for groceries on Thursday.
Sanchez, a preschool teacher, works two jobs to support herself and a teenage daughter.
She also has cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that often results in device implants or a heart transplant.
Her problems began last year, when her employer switched insurance companies last year.
"My medicine went from being free to paying full price for everything," Sanchez said. "My medicine is as much as my electric bill. It's hard. I have to tell my daughter sometimes that we'll have to pick and choose this service. Sometimes you have to decide if you are going to buy milk, or are you going to get fruits and vegetables. Milk is expensive, eggs are expensive. It's harder for her, because she is an athlete. Beggars can't be choosers, but she isn't eating carbs right now."
"Me, having a heart condition, I want to eat healthy," Sanchez said. "I am supposed to be on a heart-healthy diet. Most of the time, I can't follow that diet, because I can't afford to buy what I am supposed to be eating, because all of the junk food is dirt cheap. All of the food that is good for you, like vegetables and meat, are expensive."
Sanchez's estranged husband also helps out, pitching in to help buy groceries.
"It helps a lot, but I don't want to take advantage of him," Sanchez said.
Pollock, whose son, daughter-in-law, and two small grandchildren live with her and her husband, also finds other ways to make ends meet.
"You go spend
The family used to use cloth diapers as a cost-cutting measure, but washing them proved too expensive to keep up.
"When I was washing them by hand, then putting them in the washer and the dryer, our light bill was over
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