Mary’s Story

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Although the holidays are over, the Food Bank would like to introduce you to one family that you helped with your donations.

Mary Bonine, 66, and her daughter, Maribeth, visited the Food Bank’s emergency food distribution site in Spring Valley just before the holidays. “It’s nearly Christmas and we have nothing at home. We need to feed our boys,” said Mary, a grandmother from Jamul who drove 45 miles with her daughter to get help for their family.

“The children will be home from school over the Christmas holidays, but right now the cupboards at both my home and my daughter’s home are bare,” said Mary who rents a mobile home next door to Maribeth, who is disabled and lives with her three teenage sons and her husband who works as a truck driver.

“My husband’s salary just isn’t enough to support a family of five, and we often face times when there is little or no food at home,” said Maribeth, who only gave her first name and asked not to be photographed.

Mary lost her job in the mortgage industry during the recession and has gone through her entire savings. “I am totally reliant on social security now. Rent takes most of my income, and I have little left over for food. The rest goes to propane,” she said. “I try to share what little I have with my daughter and her family, but it’s not enough.” Mary and her daughter visit the Food Bank every month and appreciate the fresh produce she and her family receive. “The fresh produce from the Food Bank is pristine. We love the broccoli, cucumbers, pears and other fresh vegetables and fruits. It really helps because the foods that we survive on are cheap foods that are really fattening, and I have put on weight. We eat a lot of rice, pasta, and bread,” she said with a smile that masks her period of hardship.

Mary’s eyes light up when she talks about her 14-year-old twin grandsons. “One plays basketball. The other plays football, but is more academic. The 17-year-old is a junior in high school. He wants to work part time at the local feed store to help out the family, but it’s a 30 mile drive into town, and we don’t have a way to get him to work,” she said. “They will be so happy to see the food we got today. This is great.”

Although Mary’s job search has been challenging, the grandmother of three refuses to give up. She took seasonal work over the holidays at a pumpkin farm and hopes to get a substitute teaching job in the New Year. As she and her daughter leave the food distribution with boxes of food for their family, a look of relief fills Mary’s face. “The most important thing is that we have each other, and thanks to the Food Bank we will have enough food to get us through the holidays.”