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The Story of a Caretaker

Facing Hunger in Manhattan, Kansas

I grew up in Wyoming. When I lived there with my family I had a good job and we were well off. We were not super wealthy or anything but there was always food on the table and we lived comfortably. My two children had the things that they needed and we lived in a pretty decent house in a good neighborhood. Fourteen months ago that all changed.

My daughter developed a severe medical condition. I lost my job because I had to take too much time off trying to care for her. We traveled around the country trying to find different medical facilities. We needed to find a doctor who could figure out what the issue was and how to help her get better. Unfortunately, we did not have much luck. Seeing all of these different doctors and traveling around began to get quite expensive. I quickly depleted the majority of my savings account and did not have a consistent source of income.

Trying to help my daughter is how we ended up in Manhattan, Kansas. She is currently at Via Christi being treated. My son and I have an apartment together near the hospital. He is trying to get a job but so far he has been unsuccessful. If my son finds a job then maybe we will be able to afford food again. Currently I am living off of Social Security, but between medical bills for my daughter and rent, there is rarely much left over for food or other expenses. Every day we have to make the decision, do we want to buy food or pay rent? I go to the Flint Hills Breadbasket at least once a week. If I am in the area, then I will sometimes stop by more than that. Without the Breadbasket, I do not think we would ever be able to eat.

Hunger is very frightening. We never know exactly how much food we will have or where it will come from. We have to plan out our day really well and be very careful. We have to watch what we do very closely. Now that I have established where to get assistance from it has become doable. Still, hunger is humiliating. I do not like having to ask for food or other basic necessities. It is embarrassing. I am sixty-two years old and I have never had to ask for help before.

As told to Andrew Knott

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