Saving Lives with the Power of Food

Published on November 8, 2021

Woman, Danielle, poses inside St. Francis HouseDanielle grew up in a loving and supportive family from South Boston.

“My dad would have done anything for me. He worked hard to get me out of the inner city because there was a lot of violence and substance use in the neighborhood.” She remembers. He relocated her to the south shore to attend high school. But Danielle missed her family, and the distance brought her closer to her cousins – who ran in the wrong crowd.

“I first experimented with crack when I was younger, but it scared me so much, so I stopped.” Danielle continues, “From there, I did well for a long time. I graduated, had a job, a fiancé, and my kids.”

Then, her fiancé died in a car accident. She painfully remembers, “His death was extremely traumatic, I developed post-traumatic stress disorder, and I was overwhelmed with grief. My kids moved in with my parents, and I began using drugs again; it just spiraled out of control.”

Danielle quickly became addicted to crack cocaine, lost her home, and began living on the streets of Boston. Crack cocaine provides a powerful dopamine stimulation to the brain and is an addictive and popular choice for people suffering from trauma.

Danielle began visiting St. Francis House in downtown Boston, a homeless shelter offering basic needs and services and a hunger-relief partner of The Greater Boston Food Bank. St. Francis House provides hot meals every day of the year for people in need using produce, grains, proteins, and fruit from GBFB.

She was anxious to get the help she needed. Danielle’s fear first stopped her from going inside, but she soon developed friendships with employees doing outreach in front of the building.

“They would always tell me, “When you’re ready, we’re here,” and would bring me fresh fruit from the dining room,” Danielle remembers. “I needed encouragement and time to face my trauma and the reality of my addiction.”

Danielle continues, “Offering me a hot cup of coffee and a banana to start my day, and an apple or an orange to toss in my bag for later gave me hope.” Danielle began getting the help she needed because of access to fresh, nutritious food made available to people in need by you and your commitment to The Greater Boston Food Bank.

Today, Danielle is two years sober and works with people in substance use recovery as a Care Coordinator at Revive Recovery in Nashua, New Hampshire. She is newly engaged, and they have a young toddler together. She has since connected with two of her three adult children and attends sobriety meetings consistently.

“The kindness I received at St. Francis House inspires my approach to clients in recovery. You need to meet people where they’re at, and you can’t take care of yourself when you’re starving. I’m so grateful for The Greater Boston Food Bank. You’re really helping so many people.”

Read more Stories of Hope and the impact of GBFB and our network of partners and supporters.

If you have a compelling story that you want to share, we welcome you to do so here. 

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