The Fight for Food: Struggling to Make Ends Meet

United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa counties.

It never used to be this way. I was a good student. In fact, a great student. Always received an “A” on every assignment, every project, every test. Everything came so easily to me. The dreams I had for myself consisted of becoming valedictorian, earning all sorts of scholarships and going away to college. I had never struggled in a class before, that is until recently…

“These days, I can barely keep my eyes open in class. I wonder if any of my teachers notice?”

Most of my classmates barely realize I exist – except for when my name is called for attendance. I’m practically invisible and honestly, I’m grateful for that. In the last year, my family has really financially struggled since my mom lost her job. She’s been working, but, her positions now just don’t pay as well.

Many days I come to school having not eaten since noon the day before. Sometimes I can barely see straight, feeling overwhelmed with hunger. Concentrating on anything besides the growling from my guts is hard. Some days, I twist in pain and try so hard to hide it.

Pain is easier to conceal when no one is aware you are suffering. That’s why I like not being noticed.

My mom works second shift, so my younger siblings and I are on our own most of the time. She also works mandatory weekends, but even the overtime never seems to make a difference. I see the way she looks at the checkbook every two weeks after she gets paid – I cannot fathom asking her for extra money so I can eat at school.

At home, I often give up my meals so my siblings can eat. My mom works so hard, she really does, and she is under a lot of pressure already. I don’t want to trouble her…

“At least I have learned how to make meals out of the little we do have in our cupboards.”

I know there isn’t any money left after rent and the gas bill. She hides the fact that we struggle financially so well; perhaps that’s why I’m such a great “actress” myself. My little brother and sister look up to me, so I need to act like nothing’s wrong, too. Right?

One day, I became so light-headed and nauseous…I just could not focus. Once the bell rang, my teacher, Mrs. Martin, pulled me aside. She knew something was wrong and wanted to help. All I could do was cry. I told her I hadn’t felt like myself for weeks.

The lies I had been telling everyone… that I wasn’t hungry, that everything was fine, that my grades weren’t that important… I was actually starting to believe them.

Mrs. Martin then began to tell me about the “Weekender Program” offered by Mobile Meals, right here at Rogers High School. Our greatest struggle for food was over the weekend, when my siblings were not in school to receive breakfast or lunch. Mrs. Martin said they provide food each Friday for students like me and insisted on getting my siblings and myself started on the program.

Now, I’m starting Monday mornings with a little more energy. I’m able to concentrate in class and am ready to get my grades back up. Our family still financially struggles, but, because of Mobile Meals, my fight in not feeling hungry has become a little less of a battle.

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*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Mobile Meals. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.

Change Maker Action: Because of your support, United Way of Greater Toledo and our strong community partners, like Mobile Meals, we are able to help low-income children in the community overcome hunger.