Gabrielle has a big heart. When the opportunity came up to care for her two stepchildren, she took immediate action, especially when she learned they weren’t being taken care of.
“There was a story about them, saying they didn’t eat or had to go eat crickets or all kinds of stuff and it’s horrible,” Gabrielle said.
She travelled all the way to California to pick up her husband’s two children when their mother could no longer care for them. The kids joined Gabrielle’s three other children in their home in Copperas Cove, Texas.
“They literally came with absolutely nothing so we had to buy furniture and beds and clothes and shoes and just everything for them,” Gabrielle said.
Though her husband is in the military and works in the Air Assault School in Fort Hood, it has been difficult to make ends meet with two more kids under their roof, especially with them at home for the summer.
Her oldest son has an attention deficit disorder and cannot eat foods that contain dyes. That means he needs to eat as much healthy food as possible, which is food her family is not always able to afford.
“Trying to buy food that is nutritious and wholesome and doesn’t have all this extra junk in it to give to my child to make sure that he isn’t going to have triggers and stuff is costly,” Gabrielle said.
With her son’s diet restrictions, providing nutritious food for all her kids is a priority.
For Gabrielle, fresh produce was a luxury growing up. Thanks to the Food Bank, she is able to stretch her budget and feed her children healthy food. An apple is no longer a luxury but a snack her kids can have.
At the Food Bank’s Partner Agency, Holy Family SVDP, she gets staples, protein, bread and fruits and vegetables.
“I would prefer to feed my family wholesome foods, fruits and vegetables…I tend to get a lot of really good food from here like fruit and vegetables and things that I can actually cook with,” Gabrielle said.
The nutritious food she is able to feed her kids is making a huge difference for them, especially for her stepkids coming from California.
“The oldest, Leon, he has grown four inches and put on like twenty something pounds because he was just so skinny and so little because his body was lacking nutrients. He didn’t have the nutrients he needed to grow,” Gabrielle said.
With school just around the corner, going to the pantry is helping Gabrielle with much more than just providing nourishing food.
“It is really tough to be able to provide the school supplies and not only that, you want your kids to fit in,” Gabrielle said. “You don’t want your kid to stand out like the poor kid and come to school in last year’s clothes.”
Each month she is able to save the money she would otherwise spend at the grocery store by going to the pantry. Her savings will help cover back-to-school expenses for her five kids.
“I’m able to use the money to get the kids new shoes or new school clothes and stuff. And buy the stuff that might be a little bit nicer…they are the ones who are really reaping the benefits of these sorts of programs,” she said.
Gabrielle couldn’t help but cry when she thought about how Food Bank supporters have helped her family.
“Thank you and you do make a difference and there are a lot of families that even though we can’t thank you directly, we are extremely grateful for being able to provide for our children,” she said.
Summer is tough for families like Gabrielle’s and preparing for back-to-school is even more challenging. That’s why we’re raising 1 million Summer Meals That Matter to ensure that kids across Central Texas have the nutrition they need to be successful in school. When you give through August 31, your donation will be doubled.