PEABODY — She was once a business owner, and she made a good living until an unplanned pregnancy 11 years ago. She’s now 44, and didn’t want to give her name; let’s call her Ann. But she went through the pregnancy without the support of her partner at the time, and found herself in a tough situation.
“My ex wasn’t much help, so I was on my own,” she said. “I was on government services for the first six or eight months. Haven From Hunger, Citizens Inn was recommended to us and I’ve been here seven to eight years altogether; if it wasn’t for this place we would be a lot worse off.”
Ann wanted to go back to work after her son was born, but his autism, and numerous medical problems, made getting a job unfeasible, she said. The woman volunteered at a local YMCA, but she recently left the position.
She was on a fixed income, trying to deal with medical bills that kept piling up.
Her ex pays child support, but at one point he was laid off from his job and she was left with $13 in her bank account.
Haven From Hunger, Citizens Inn has been a crucial resource for her over the years.
“Buying groceries here allows me to put money towards his school clothes that I wouldn’t be able to do if it wasn’t for here,” she said. “He’s a big, solid kid and he eats a lot because he’s growing. I’m glad he’s growing so nicely, because if it wasn’t for here, he wouldn’t eat so much.”
The issue of nutrition on a tight budget is something Ann knows all too well.
“Going to a regular store, even Market Basket, is difficult because the better quality food you want to buy, the more it costs,” she said.
Luckily, Haven From Hunger, Citizens Inn Offers fresh produce and meats to supplement the nutritional gap she faces.
While she receives $218 in food stamps per month, feeding a growing boy would be impossible if she didn’t shop for groceries at Haven From Hunger, Citizens Inn once a week.
Ann believes being in her current position has made her more understanding of other people. She advises others not to judge a book by its cover.
Having witnessed the unfair treatment of those in similarly unfortunate situations, she made the decision to remain anonymous in order to avoid the stigma of food insecurity. She also worries her son would be bullied.
“You feel like you are less of a person,” she said.