Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
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Three people, three eye-opening food stories

Added on Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Michael, Angela and Kathy are three people, with three different food needs, and three eye-opening stories.

Michael comes to The Salvation Army for hot meals. He is terminally ill and living out of his car.

Free breadKathy comes for bread. Not long ago, the senior and her husband lived on less than $200 per month.

Angela comes for groceries. Her husband works hard, but doesn’t earn enough to support her and their 9-year-old granddaughter.

Visit any of The Salvation Army’s 28 operation center in Minnesota or North Dakota, and you’ll meet people like Michael, Angela and Kathy. All of these locations offer at least one of the following: hot meals, food shelf services, and free bread.

Below is closer look at the lives of Michael, Angela and Kathy.

“When you give to The Salvation Army’s food programs, please remember that these are the kinds of people you are helping,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, Salvation Army Northern Division commander.

Michael: Hot meal guest

Michael could die at any minute. He suffers from an inoperable heart condition.

Michael, hot meal program guest“I’m in the end stages,” the 50-year-old said. “My heart is at 15 percent. When it gets to 5 percent, it’s over.”

He moved to Minnesota from Chicago last August to be closer to his daughter and grandkids. He sometimes stays with them at their home in St. Paul, though he doesn’t want to be a burden. More often, he sleeps in his car.

During the day, Michael spends most of his time alone, in a wooded park area.

“I try to keep to myself,” said Michael, who started going to church on Sundays.

Last week, he drove by The Salvation Army and saw a sign advertising a free community lunch. He stopped in and ate.

“They also wrapped up some food I could take with me,” said Michael, whose diet is limited to easily digestible foods. “They gave me cereal. I love cereal.”

Later, he met with a Salvation Army caseworker. Together, they began searching for housing. Michael found an apartment he wanted to apply for – an efficiency space in St. Paul, near his daughter’s house.

“My life is tough,” Michael said. “The Salvation Army is helping me get on track.”

Kathy: Bread table guest  

Not so long ago, Kathy and her husband spent five years living on less than $200 per month. They took in $1,000 per month from her husband’s pension and paid $800-plus for their mortgage. Her husband wanted to work, but his employer of nearly 30 years had all but forced him to retire.

Kathy, admin volunteer“We refused to lose our house,” said Kathy, 65, who hasn’t worked since age 50 because of a disability.

Living on so little, for so long, took its toll.

“It was stressful,” Kathy said. “We tried to not go to the doctor.”

During those lean years, Kathy and her husband relied on The Salvation Army for bread. Most Salvation Army locations offer free bread donated by local grocery stores. The bread is offered as supplies allow, without an appointment.

“I showed up for bread almost every day,” Kathy said. “A couple people I knew started coming, too. I’d talk to them. It became my morning getaway. I needed that.”

Although money is still tight, Kathy and her husband’s financial situation did improve this year. Both of them turned 65 and became eligible to collect social security.

Recently, Kathy began volunteering at The Salvation Army. She answers phones (pictured) one day a week.

“I want to give back a little,” she said.

Angela: Food shelf guest

Angela and her husband are the legal guardians of their 9-year-old granddaughter.

Angela picks out food at food shelfThe family lives in a frustrating margin: They are too poor to buy all the food they need, yet their household income is too high to qualify for assistance.

“My husband makes too much money for food stamps,” said Angela, a homemaker. “We have to go to the food shelf to make up for what we can’t afford at the store.”

She comes to her local Salvation Army food shelf mainly for pasta, meat, frozen fruit, flour, and sugar. She also receives soap, toothpaste, and other toiletries.

“In the wintertime, I might stop in to pick up my grandkid a coat, or get holiday foods, like a turkey,” Angela said. “We can’t afford to buy a whole lot. When you have to pay for rent, lights, and gas, you have to make your budget stretch.”

Angela is thankful for The Salvation Army.

“They are here to help the community,” she said. “I love The Salvation Army.”

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support food programs in your local community today.