Mary loves to cook. From cheese spread, to wine, to jelly, she makes everything from scratch. Regardless of what she makes, Mary can only cook during the day.
Once the sun goes down, darkness sets in to what she calls home: a storage shed on her land that has no electricity, gas or plumbing.
These past eight years have been tough for the 70 year old. Behind her energetic and cheery attitude lies pain, sadness and many tears.
The house Mary had already paid off burned down in an accident eight years ago. While she was out running errands, her husband was trying to light the heater, but it caught on fire and engulfed their house.
Mary came back to nothing.
“I’ve been homeless for eight years in the little thing I got,” Mary said. “Sometimes I cry about it. It hurts me. Everybody tells me I ain’t got no water, I ain’t got no gas. I don’t have any of that.”
Mary doesn’t have the money to rebuild her home. She makes the best of living in her shed and pays neighbors and family to be able to use their restroom and shower.
It’s hard. Having enough blankets to keep warm is a luxury she can’t even afford.
The limited monthly income she receives goes towards paying her property taxes, paying to use someone else’s restroom and medical expenses.
Though she had three heart attacks and three strokes last year, she doesn’t have enough for her medicine. It has been three years since she last took her heart medication.
“Sometimes I am in pain and my heart starts hurting me. They said they found something inside my heart and I can’t pay for any of my medicine because my little check ain’t that much. We had to pay the tax this month so it’s kind of hard for me to survive,” Mary said.
Thanks to the Food Bank, Mary has one less thing to worry about – food. Every month she receives a 25 to 30 pound box of food at one of our Commodity Supplemental Food Program distributions. The box includes specially selected food to meet the nutritional needs of adults over 60, like canned vegetables, oatmeal, tomato sauce, cheese, juice, beans, rice, macaroni, and more.
The food in the box helps her stay healthy. Since she has types 1 and 2 diabetes, Mary has to eat a lot of vegetables to keep her diabetes under control.
“When there are a lot of canned goods, I always use that up. If they have carrots, I use carrots. I make myself a little stir fry with whatever they send me. I cook the carrots real well and chop up the meat real fine and brown me some rice and put it on top. Oh, it’s so good,” Mary said.
Using her propane stove, Mary gets creative with the food she gets from the Food Bank. She’ll make anything from stir-fried vegetables to nachos and even makes herself a special red cheese spread for her sandwiches.
Despite the rough times, Mary stays positive and is very grateful for all the help she receives from the Food Bank, especially with only $2 in her pocket to hold her over.
“I would like to tell them that I like what you all are doing and I appreciate it. I love you all for doing this…thank you very much,” Mary said.