Laura’s* story

As head cook at a local hospital, Laura rarely took a day off. She even worked the same day she gave birth to her child.

“I worked the whole day and went into labor as soon as I finished my eight-hour shift,” she said.

But years of hard work on her feet eventually took its toll. Laura tore ligaments in both of her knees and was diagnosed with arthritis, forcing her to go on disability.

The money she receives through Social Security helps, but there is little left after Laura pays her monthly bills. It was hard for Laura to buy enough groceries to feed herself and her adult, disabled daughter. When she had to take in her 6-year-old niece, money got even tighter. There were days when Laura did not know where her family’s next meal would come from.

Then Laura discovered she was eligible to receive supplemental food assistance through St. Patrick’s Pantry in Erie County, one of FeedMore WNY’s member agencies.

She especially loves that St. Patrick’s is a Client Choice Pantry, which means Laura has the ability to choose the foods that work best for her and her family.

Laura uses the pantry to provide her family with nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean meats – often expensive items at the grocery store. One thing Laura is very proud of is her ability to not let food go to waste.

“I can make it stretch,” she said. “When the pantry gives me pasta and ground beef – that’s a couple of meals right there.”

Being a caretaker of two while dealing with her own health problems can be challenging, but Laura makes the best of her situation.

“I just live day by day. I have my bad days and my good days and try not to complain.” She said. “As long as my bills are paid, and we have food and a roof, I am happy.”

Laura knows life would be a lot more difficult were it not for the help of FeedMore WNY and St. Patrick’s Pantry. She wants all the volunteers and donors to know how much their support means to her family.

“I appreciate it. I really do,” she said.

* Name has been changed.

Laura is one of 148,510 individuals who struggle with food insecurity and hunger in Erie County. With the pandemic and its impact, the need has increased 42 percent since 2018 for 43,970 residents (Source: Feeding America). No one is impacted more than our Black and non-white residents. According to the New York State Community Action Association’s 2020 Poverty Report, 32.1 percent of African Americans in Erie County live in poverty, compared to 9.3 percent of White residents. In the City of Buffalo, Black residents are six times as likely as their White counterparts and nine times as likely as their Latino and Asian or Pacific Islander counterparts to live in limited supermarket access areas, according to National Equity Atlas.

If you are in need of food assistance in Western New York, we’re here to help. Visit our pantry locator tool to find a partner agency near your home address or learn more about receiving home-delivered meals.