Choosing between food and medicine

Casey was born and raised in the quiet, rural western Massachusetts community of Huntington, where she continues to live, now raising three young children of her own. She relies on a fixed Supplemental Security Income to pay for her bare bones living expenses, transportation needs, and health care requirements. But when her priority shifts to one of her child’s medical condition, her ability to put food on the table becomes an overwhelming challenge.

At a very young age, Casey’s son (now 6 years old) began suffering from severe asthma. Since the diagnosis five years ago, inhaler treatments are administered at least five times each day, and a consistent regimen of nebulizer treatments are scheduled for every morning, noon and night. Accompanying medicine and the required hospital visits compound her total expenses rather quickly, leaving little money in Casey’s budget for groceries.

In the past, she often went without food, so that her children would have enough to eat. Now, Casey goes to the Huntington Food Pantry for food. Without public transportation, she either borrows a family member’s car or carpools with others in her town to get herself to the pantry regularly. Once there, she chooses from a variety of healthy food options, including fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy products and non-perishable staples.

In addition to her weekly visits to the food pantry, Casey also receives benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), allowing her to purchase healthy food for her family at local retailers and farmer’s markets. SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income households nationally, making it the largest domestic hunger program.

“We eat a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Casey. “Without SNAP, I would be forced to decide between paying for bills and paying for food. And you can’t really choose between medicine and food.”

The Food Bank works with the Huntington Food Pantry, and hundreds of other pantries and meal sites across the region, to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food. Additionally, our SNAP outreach team helps people determine their eligibility and apply for SNAP benefits. We are committed to lending a hand up to thousands of families like Casey’s, across all four counties.

“I greatly appreciate everything The Food Bank and their supporters do,” explains Casey. “It helps me get food on the table for my kids, and that’s the most important thing.”