(l-r) Cameron, Cody, Reese and Rachel share a moment on their front porch. Rachel suffers from an autoimmune disorder and must follow a strict diet.
3-year-old Reese bounces excitedly when she sees her favorite non-dairy yoghurt at the food pantry. Her mother Rachel smiles. “We are dairy-free, egg-free, and sugar-free,” Rachel explains, “The specialty food items that we need are not in our budget. Reese gets excited when she sees that here.”
Rachel helps her 5-year-old son Cody choose a loaf of gluten-free bread from food pantry shelves. She suffers from an autoimmune disorder that requires her to follow a strict anti-inflammatory diet. After Rachel and her husband Cameron moved to Augusta from Minnesota for Cameron’s Corp of Engineers job, the higher cost of living put the foods she needs out of financial reach.
“It’s more expensive here. Groceries are not taxed in Minnesota, so that was a big change for us. And we used to live in a small town,” Rachel explains. When Rachel can’t follow her diet, she must manage her condition through medication costing over $2,000 per month, straining the family’s resources even further.
That’s when the family found help at Christway Christian Church, also their place of worship. Supplied by donations Golden Harvest Food Bank receives from Sprouts Farmers Market, Christway Christian food pantry can provide vegan, gluten free, and other specialty food items.
“This food has helped our family a lot,” Rachel says. “I can do the bulk of my shopping here. Meat, greens, lunch meat and bread – we get all of that here.”
For Rachel and her family, the food pantry provides acceptance and hope in a difficult situation. “We’ve never used food assistance and it was a little bit tough to admit that we needed help,” she says. “But now it’s a great thing. Friends from church come here too, and we bring our kids so they can play together.”
Getting the food she needs has improved Rachel’s health. “I’ve been off my medicine since December,” she smiles. “If it hadn’t been for the food pantry, I would not be able to follow my diet.”