Lisa | How Food Nourishes my Family

By: Lisa, mom to three

My name is Lisa. I’m 30 years old and I’ve lived here in Colorado Springs for about 10 years now. I currently work as the front office manager at a local elementary school, and I’m a part-time student at Pikes Peak Community College where I’m studying social work.

If you were to come up to me right now and ask me to tell you a little bit about some of the things most important to me in life, I would say it’s my three beautiful kids.

Karolina, my oldest, is 13. I would say she’s very quiet and reserved at first, but once when she gets to know you and is comfortable with you, oh, she breaks out of her shell and she has a lot of sarcasm in there.

Then, there is my son Xavi. I call him “the gentleman” because he is such a sweetheart, and he always likes to do little things that remind me of how much he loves me. He’ll open my doors for me, bring me lemon water when he can tell that I’m stressed. He will even offer to massage my feet if he can tell that I’m having a bad day! (I know right now he’s probably so embarrassed that I’m saying all of these things, but I just want to say that he’s only 11, and I think he is the perfect example of what a good human being is.)

And then I have my little Aymar, who is seven years old. The biggest mama girl in the world, I like to call her my “mini-mom.” She’s very attached to me, and wants to do everything that I’m doing. If I give orders to Karolina and Xavi, she wants to give orders to them too. And, if I’m in the kitchen making a meal, she wants to be in the kitchen right next me with her chef’s hat and apron on.

Being a mom is the most special and meaningful title I can hold… because I can honestly say that it has shaped me into who I am and it has motivated me to make those tough decisions to get where I am today.

My mom had me when she was just a teenager, and raised me as a single parent. Like her, I also became a mom when I was in high school. I want to be able to break that cycle. Because growing up, it was really difficult. I didn’t always have someone around to cook me those hot meals, and on some nights it was “eat what you could find.” I don’t blame my mom, because I know that she was trying her best. But when I became a mom, I knew I had to grow up fast and do everything in my power to give my kids the best childhoods possible.  I never want them to know what it feels like to not know where their next meal will come from.

That meant, at one point, working two jobs. I would leave the elementary school and then go straight to McDonald’s to work an evening shift until 11 at night. To save on food, I would cut back on my meals so, that way, I knew my kids would have enough. Each time I did that though, I felt like I was failing as a parent. At the time, I didn’t want my kids to know that we were stretched then, because I didn’t want them to have to feel that burden, or to feel different than their friends.

That’s when I started searching for extra help. I was able to start building up a support system through church and work. I applied to receive SNAP benefits, which has helped me purchase additional food at the grocery store. And then I discovered the school food pantry. I usually go there only when I know I need some extra help. And it really does help so much.

Since I live paycheck-to-paycheck, the money that comes in is spread thin. And a lot of it goes to bills. So having a place where I can get food to help with our meals, without them asking you questions, or judging you… it means so much to me. It helps me with my budget, and I don’t have to stress about whether I or my kids or going to have to go without food. I even have leftovers that I can freeze and save for meals the next day.

When I go to the school pantry, I feel so welcomed. I can see that people are doing the work out of the goodness of their hearts. It makes me want to come back and to tell other people about my experience, so I can advocate for these opportunities.

I remember one time, I brought home Brussel sprouts. It was the very first time my kids had tried it. My two girls, they didn’t like them so much. But my son, he LOVES Brussels sprouts. I think little moments like that are really special. It was something new and different that we all got to experience together… and I might not have been able to give them that without the pantry.

My purpose in life is to try and make my life and my kids’ life a little bit better each day—to set small goals that I can work to reach, and to show my kids that no matter what setbacks we have, we will keep trying and we’ll get there one day. We all appreciate the clothes we have. The meals we have. The roof we have over our heads. Sometimes, it’s a struggle, but I’m trying to do my best to give my kids everything they need.

Food, for us, is possibilities.

For my kids, it’s the opportunity to be able to dream and to go on any journey they want.

For me, it’s a blessing.

I cannot thank the community enough for the unbelievable help you all are able to provide my family and others. I know what the heavy weight of worrying about how you are going to feed your children feels like. But I also know what it’s like to have that weight lifted from you, thanks to kindness and generosity. It is incredible and life changing. Not just for me, but for my kids too.

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