Nancy and Luana are sisters. “We’re a total of six siblings and there are eight of us in the house.”
“The youngest is nine and the oldest of the siblings is her, which is twenty-four,” Luana says of Nancy.
Luana, who is twenty-one, is currently looking for a job. Her sister, Nancy, is employed at an after-school program as a teacher’s assistant. “I get paid well!” Nancy says. Luana interrupts, “But it’s kind of not enough. Not enough to help out with the family.”
Nancy likes her job, especially the nutrition class. “[The food pantry] goes in our school every Monday to teach kids for nutrition class. That’s the one thing that makes it interesting, is that the little kids will talk about their snacks and then they’ll ask me if I’m going to do it a home and I’m like,’I’ll do it at home! I’ll go home and do that, you can do it too!’ So kids will ask me, ‘Are you gonna do that snack?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah!'”
“Some are picky but they’re like, you learn every new food! You never knew!”
Unfortunately, the after-school program is struggling to find funding for next school year and Nancy might lose her job as a consequence. She has thought about going to school to become a teacher. “I have plans to study but I don’t know,” says Nancy. Luana cuts in, “But not at the time because we need money for food.”
Nancy is not the only person in her family who is employed. Their dad is employed too, in construction. He has to travel for work, mostly throughout Texas, but once as far as Florida.
“Sometimes he doesn’t get as much income like he used to when we were younger. So this is why we rely on food pantries to get the extra food since we’re a big family.”
At the same time their dad’s income is becoming more tenuous, the rent in their neighborhood is increasing. They live in a part of Austin that is rapidly developing and gentrifying. As a result, the cost of living is becoming much more than it used to be.
On top of all that, their family’s SNAP benefits have been decreasing and the sisters don’t know why. “I don’t know what’s been going on with the food stamps, but ever since my mother applied they started year by year decreasing the food stamps on her so we started going to more pantries.”
Their family relies on the food pantries for getting healthy food. “My mom really loves to eat healthy foods from the food pantry. ‘Cause when we were younger, we were a little chunky. And at that time when we started talking about food programs and all that stuff we were like, screw these hamburgers, we’re going to eat healthy stuff! So we started eating healthy. My mom lost a lot of weight from it.”
The sisters’ family has a history of diabetes, so they have already started taking steps to avoid developing the disease. Their mom does most of the cooking and likes to cook healthy– with the occasional splurge around the holidays.
When the sisters were asked what they would like to say to convince people who are considering coming to the food pantry to come, one laughed and said, “Besides free food?” Her sister responded, laughing, “It’s also healthy!”