When Graciela Rosales walked on to Your Neighborhood Food Truck last month, nothing about her family’s future seemed certain, a feeling she had experienced before.
The truck, a 40-ft RV retrofitted and owned by Hunger Free Colorado to connect Denver-area families to food stamps and other food resources, was parked outside Denver Health’s Eastside Family Health Center. One of Graciela’s clinic contacts encouraged her to visit and see if she could get help buying groceries for her family.
On-board she met Ninfa Drago, the Hunger Free Colorado team member who operates the truck, with a goal to help struggling families enroll for food stamps, if they qualify. Sitting side-by-side, Ninfa walked Graciela through the food stamp application, and during this time, learned her story. Ninfa shared that she heard many stories like Graciela’s, but her goal is to make each person feel that they are heard and their story matters.
Here is Graciela’s story:
When she moved to Denver from El Paso, Texas, a few years ago, Graciela had high hopes of finding a better life for herself and her four children. A survivor of domestic abuse, she had faced adversity in the past.
“I was looking forward to living in a city where I had family and a better network of support,” she said.
After settling in to her new home, she was able to find enough work to keep food on the table and see that her first two children graduated from college.
A short time after graduation, her three oldest children were diagnosed with a hereditary health condition that ran in her ex-husband’s family, a condition that he had never disclosed to her. This condition prevents her children from working full-time, which means that all five family members still live under the same roof on a much smaller budget. At the same time, her extended family was moving out of Denver and she found herself without the support network to lean on when times got tough.
Last year, Graciela began to have health issues and recently was diagnosed with diabetes. This impacted the family in two ways: It became too challenging, physically, to work the same amount of hours that she had in the past, which significantly decreased the family’s income. Secondly, her condition required her to take 11 different medications each day, a new expense that took money away from her family’s food budget.
“My worry every day was would there be enough food in the house to eat the next day?” shared Graciela.
Early in June, Graciela learned that her food stamp application was approved and her family would receive monthly benefits, which are pre-loaded on to a Quest Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. This means that they will have enough funds to purchase needed groceries.
“Food stamps,” she said, “make me feel as if I will survive and that someone cares. I feel safer now, and that takes a lot of stress off of me and my family.”
Learn more about Hunger Free Colorado services, such as the Hunger Free Hotline and Your Neighborhood Truck, which connect families and individuals to food resources. Call the toll-free, confidential hotline toll-free at (855) 855-4626 for food assistance, as well as donation and volunteer opportunities in your area.