Out of Reach

the fight for food: a collection of stories from the community


When I was a child my dad often took us kids to dumpster dive. He was a country singer, and my mom was receiving state aid. We would be out of food near the end of each month. We got to know the days that most of the grocery stores through out certain foods. Some times there were employees who would bag up the best of the veggies, or day old breads, and leave them beside the dumpster so we didn’t have to get inside. These days I am on a very strict budget. My son is autistic. Since I have changed his diet to non-GMO foods, which also include foods that are not processed, no MSG, dyes, BTH, nitrates, or gluten….it has become increasingly more expensive. Thank God for dollar stores. I tend to not eat as well, since I need to make sure he is eating what he needs. I had surgery on both wrist and have not been able to work. So it is also hard making a trip to the store. My oldest son is in the Air Force and has been paying most of our bills, I am thankful every day that we are better off than most.

Brandy B., California


I was living with my husband and our then almost two year old. I had joined Teach for America and they placed us in a very rural town in North Carolina. Aside from the extremely limited access to stores…My salary was just barely enough for the three of us to live. Then the winters hit and our heating bill was more than our rent. Every time I would spend even $50 at the store we would have panic attacks. We had to eat a lot of pasta and frozen meats, canned goods. Nothing was really fresh ever. Shortly after, my son was born who had a kidney issue from birth and had 9 surgeries by 18 months old. I was very fortunate in that my co-workers donated their vacation time to me so that I could take off work and be with my son after my maternity leave was up, and still get paid. Had they not done that we wouldn’t have made it monetarily. It was a very stressful time in our lives and I still suffer from it despite being in a better place financially today. I cannot login to my online banking without panicking and I’ve set everything up on auto pay or online billing so that I don’t have to open an envelope.

Courtney S., Florida


Growing up, my dad worked incredibly hard to provide for us in rural Alaska, but the prices were always outrageous. A bag of grapes in my hometown now goes for $9.50 a pound. Half a gallon of milk is close to $6 for even the generic stuff.

When I was in college, it was incredibly difficult to afford food, especially anything other than the fried, processed, and/or mass-produced offerings of a university dining facility. It’s hard to get away from that ramen mentality in school.

Now, I’m lucky enough to be stationed back in Alaska, although I live in a larger city and have more choices and a lower cost of living. My partner and I both have a comfortable income, but food can still be expensive up here. Produce has to be shipped in along with meat, so it’s often already going bad by the time it makes it to the shelf or picked before ripe to make the journey. We can afford food, but we can’t shell out the extra cost for organic or ethical foods. We usually have to go to several different stores to get decent prices on certain items and food is a massive line item in our budget.

Kaitlin H., Alaska


My family deals with this constantly after it got to the point to where I could not work and there is a great chance that I will never be able to work again. I have always worked after I turned 15. I have always had problems with my back. Three years ago, I finally went to the doctor about my constant back pain. Found out that I needed to have back surgery. I put that surgery off as long as I could. My first back surgery was back in Sept. 2016. I was released to go back to work and ended up having to have surgery again in the same spot. That was April this year and then the 6th of this month [July], I had to go in for a hernia repair.

My back has not got any better. I am not able to work and my husband is disabled. His check he gets once a month barely covers the bills. We get food stamps but the food only last two weeks no matter how we buy. I always by the cheapest thing there is and I know it is not healthy but I don’t have a choice. I remember the first time I walked into the neurosurgeon office. He asked me why was I not drawing disability. I have been fighting for my disability after the first surgery. Sorry getting a little teary.

Our car went down almost 2 and half months ago. Found out that it is going to cost the same amount for me to go out and buy another car that was a lot nicer than what I had. My mother, god rest her soul, she co-signed with my husband to get a car. She is helping us with the payments on it. Even if that did not happen, she could only spare enough money for use to eat for two or three days. It has been very rough and hard over the past three years but worse after I left my last job because I was having surgery. Now it is a constant struggle for food right at the end of the month and we have to spend bill money to buy food. There is a lot of times we do without because we cannot afford it. I am praying that my disability is approved because it would be a major help. I have went days without eating and my husband more than me because he wants me to eat first. So, I know what it means to struggle and my family is struggling now.

Jennifer C., Georgia


The memories of hunger are so vivid as a child and teenager. We had only rice and beans to eat. When we did not have that, we did not eat. I still remember going to bed hungry and how my stomach hurt at night. Whenever I got invited to party’s or BBQ I would always ask for a to go plate so I can take food home to my brother and sister. To this day I cannot have an empty fridge or pantry, I go into panic mode and tend to overbuy food.

Rose K., California


I currently live in a part of Delaware with no buses, no train station, no greyhound, no municipal airport, no Uber or Lyft. One overpriced cab driver, we have no Starbucks and only Walmart for groceries.

Michelle F., Delaware


I’m disabled and my husband is a disabled veteran fighting for his benefits. We have 4 teenagers, 3 of which are special needs with one having to use a wheelchair part of the time. We only get $45 a month in food stamps. How is anyone to survive, I know before anyone says anything, food stamps are a supplement, but when all your money goes to pay rent, car, car insurance and utilities and there is barely any left for food, it’s hard to get by let alone eat healthy.

Alicia S., Kentucky