Adrianna, age 5, lives with her parents in Denver. Her dad works at a call-center, six days a week.
The family has a newborn on the way, and Adrianna’s dad fears he will miss the birth of his second child, because taking time off from work will put his compensation, which is incentive-based, in jeopardy. At the moment, the family isn’t in a place where they can aff ord any hiccups in their budget.
Describing their situation, Adrianna’s parents shed frustrated tears. Their budget is tight, and they constantly have to choose between vitally important expenses. They have each often-skipped meals in order to provide enough food for Adrianna.
Adrianna started kindergarten this year, and it’s an immense relief on the family budget, since she’ll be eating breakfast and lunch at school. Both her parents are incredibly grateful that they qualify for free school meals. Knowing with certainty that school meals will provide two of Adrianna’s meals each day will help the family stretch their limited food dollars when she’s not in school so that she can get the nutrition that she needs.
Privately, Jeff rey and Brandy are frustrated by their ﬁ nancial situation but they do not show it in front of Adrianna. Her smile when she enters a room lifts her parents’ moods visibly. During this interview, the pain of describing their situation disappeared when Adrianna joined them. They will do whatever they must to keep their children from going hungry.
Direct Quotes From Adriana's Parents
“[Federal Nutrition Programs] mean sustenance, you know? Being able to wake up and go to my job every day so that I can make the money to pay my bills so that I’m not living out on the street completely depending on the state or completely depending on our government.”
“I don’t look like I’m starving. But it’s tough. I’ll sometimes just want to eat but I don’t even have money to go to the store and get a bag of chips or anything.”
“[If we didn’t have federal nutrition programs,] my kids would starve. We would starve. My kids aren’t going to starve. I will do what it takes for my kids to eat. But I will go hungry. My husband will go hungry. But what does that do to our health?”
“Right now, all I’ve really got in my fridge is WIC stuff , so milk, eggs, cheese. I’ve got corn tortillas. I’ve got some canned soups in the cabinet from the food stamps. It’s not easy. So when I’ve got the bare minimums to make meals with, I tend to go eat over at my grandfather’s. And he’ll make enough for all of us, and I bring him home dinner every night. Or I end up eating very little and making more for my daughter than I eat myself, which I can’t do. I’m eight months pregnant. I need to eat, too. And I’m hungry all the time. It’s hard.”