As a parent, Princess can think of nothing more important than giving her kids a healthy future, despite challenges her family faces every day as they struggle to make ends meet. We met Princess recently at the Food Bank’s Healthy Children pantry at Bessie Carmichael Elementary School in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. It’s here where this dark-haired woman with the radiant smile shared her story of struggle, and how the Food Bank helped her family move forward.
Out of love and also out of need, Princess shares clothing with her wife, Dina, an army veteran who suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and a host of other physical injuries after multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her mental and physical challenges, while improving, have taken a toll on the family.
“There is very little income to speak of…we’re depending on V.A. affordable housing as well as the Food Bank to get by,” said Princess. She recounts the time, not too long ago, when the family was homeless and moving from shelter to shelter, sometimes spending nights in their car when shelter beds were full. Princess would hide her pain and tell their kids, “It’s like camping. We are going to have fun.”
While the family was grateful for shelter, Princess said the meals served at temporary housing facilities were often small and not very nutritious. Princess and Dina worried that their three young children weren’t getting the food they needed to grow and thrive.
That changed when one of Princess’ kids told her about the food pantry at school. She was delighted to discover she could get free, fresh vegetables and groceries every Thursday morning when she took the kids to school.
“It was a relief to be able to get good, healthy food for the kids,” said Princess. “The doctor said they need fruits and vegetables for their bodies, and now I can give that to them.”
Dina says the food “is a big part of family bonding and that’s a part of the equation of why our family works.”
Soon after joining the food pantry, Princess and Dina’s gained confidence to move forward. With perseverance and a little luck, they secured an affordable apartment on Treasure Island through the Veteran’s Administration. In their new home, Princess can cook for her family. With groceries from the Food Bank, she prepares home-cooked meals including a family favorite – steamed vegetables with rice and chicken.
Now the family is able to focus on the future. Dina has gone back to school, while Princess cares for their children and runs the household. They are hopeful that they will tackle their many struggles so their family can thrive in the long run. “The nutrition helps a lot,” said Dina. “When your belly is full, you can better manage the troubles in life. This food is helping to keep my family together.”
Princess and Dina are so grateful to the Food Bank donors. “We hope they never tire of giving because they are really making a difference for families in need,” said Dina. “It’s more than putting food in kids’ bellies. Instead of paying for food, we can pay the bills, like rent, and clothes, and medical expenses. It’s really a big help to families like ours. Thank you so much for making such a big difference in our lives.”
If you would like to help families like Princess and Dina’s, please consider making a donation today.