Real Face of Hunger: Debi’s Story

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Debi worked her whole life, and was making great money while managing multi-family housing, when her world crashed. She used to be quite an athlete on top of it, participating on local roller derby teams. She was loving life, until at age 42, she went to roller derby practice and her legs just wouldn’t move. After many doctor visits, she was diagnosed with Lupus, which 10 years later has turned into multiple other disabling health issues. At age 53, she is confined to a wheelchair and on oxygen 24 hours a day. She can hardly walk, and falls over if she stands up too long. Debi has undergone over 60 surgeries, so her medical bills are astounding.

Her age means she doesn’t qualify for assistance through Meals on Wheels or Medicare, and her disability check for $1,600 a month means she doesn’t qualify for other food assistance such as SNAP benefits. When you take out rent, utilities and medication, there’s not much left for food. The only program she qualifies for is Utah Food Bank’s Food Box Program because she is homebound and disabled. This monthly food box has been a lifeline for Debi, and it means she always has bread and peanut butter, even if she has nothing else.

According to Debi, “I am pretty educated about food, so I can usually combine the ingredients to make something. Sometimes I cut the cheese in half to freeze, and put half a loaf of bread in the freezer, because it’s just me and that way I can make it last longer. The frozen fruit has been great to add to protein smoothies that my doctor has asked me to drink, and I don’t waste anything and am always willing to share if I have extra.”

Debi says that not working drivesĀ  her crazy. In fact she has changed her schedule so she sleeps during the day and stays up at night because that way she doesn’t have to see so many people being productive and going places because that just makes her feel worse.

“Each time I get the food, it means I am going to be okay for another few weeks. One time I was so hungry that I just opened up a can of fruit and ate it straight out of the can. It really brightens my day when the boxes come and they have been decorated by the kids…it’s just so sweet,” says Debi. “The volunteer who brings my food box even sometimes brings her son, and it melts my heart to see how excited he is about getting to help me.”

“I’m an example of someone who had a great life, but then one thing went wrong in my life and it’s never been the same. With my health issues, I know that it neverĀ will be the same again,” Debi states. “Anyone could find themselves in this situation, and I am so glad that there area amazing programs like this to help people. I don’t know what I’d do without it.”

If you would like to learn more about our Food Box Program, or are interested in volunteering to deliver boxes, please click HERE.

Client Story - Debi