Cassie, a FoodShare Outreach Specialist with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, conducts outreach and provides application assistance in Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties. Each person she meets with has their own uniquely powerful story and life circumstances.
Cassie met Michael at a Winnebago food pantry in April. She was sitting at a table and handing information to people interested in the FoodShare program. As Michael entered the food pantry, Cassie could tell he was a bit uncomfortable there. She approached Michael to see if he was currently entolled in FoodShare.
As a former Marine, Michael was not used to asking for help or assistance from anyone, so the idea of using a food pantry was very foreign to him. He is a two-time cancer survivor and developed PTSD from his time overseas. Michael also suffers from severe anxiety. These struggles make it difficult for him to find sustainable employment, and currently finds himself out of work. His medical bills continue to climb as he seeks treatment for his mental health disorders and is struggling to make ends meet. After meeting with Michael in a private corner of the food pantry, learning about his circumstances, and realizing that he might be eligible for FoodShare, she helped him apply online.
Later that month, Cassie saw Michael again at the same food pantry. Thanking her for helping him, he shared that he was approved for FoodShare and that having money to purchase groceries now provides a sense of normalcy and dignity. With bills piling up, he says anything will help and he never knew FoodShare was an option.
While it is easy to make judgements about “those people” on the FoodShare program, more often than not, FoodShare recipients share similar stories with Michael. Some FoodShare recipients are military veterans. Others are families whose head of household recently lost employment due to layoffs. Still more, many recipients are seniors on a fixed income, or adults working full time just not earning enough through their employer to cover all of their bills. Our FoodShare specialists work on the front lines and hear these stories, and provide assistance with FoodShare applications as a line of defense against hunger.