Irma and her husband, Roberto, live paycheck to paycheck putting food on the table for their three small children in Lynn.
Roberto has worked the same job as a hotel maintenance manager for 37 years. While he has steady employment, the family struggles to keep up with their rising rent and the high cost of living in Eastern Massachusetts.
Irma, 38, said the family sometimes runs out of food at the end of the month as expenses add up and their food budget bottoms out.
“Between paying bills, rent and everything else, we’re just trying to survive,” she said.
Since 2014, The Greater Boston Food Bank has partnered with the Connery Elementary School in Lynn to run a monthly School-based Pantry for families in need at the school. Irma’s three children—Casey, 13; Roberto, 12; and Daisy, 5—all either attended or currently attend the Connery School. Her two older children even volunteered at the School-based Pantry, helping carry boxes and bags of food, when they were members of the student council at the Connery School.
“This is a really rewarding opportunity for us,” Irma said. “It always helps out at the end of the month when we run out of food to fill our pantry.”
Irma and other families at the school take home about 40 pounds of nutritious food every month from the free, farmers market-style distribution.
“We’re able to get a lot of vegetables from the pantry. Daisy loves the broccoli,” Irma said. “We also get milk, eggs, pasta, potatoes… we use everything we bring home.”
The food usually lasts the family about two weeks, according to Irma.
“[The School-based Pantry] helps financially because we’re running around trying to make ends meet,” she said. “And this helps us feed our kids.”