The inequities in our food system and our communities largely rest upon policies and practices that uphold racism and poverty. Many of our NourishMKE family members bear the burden of these inequities.

Maricruz*, a soft-spoken and petite woman, lives just down the road from our Mitchell St pantry. Now in her 60s, she immigrated here from Mexico some years ago to seek greater opportunity in the United States, away from the violence ravaging her home community. Once here, Maricruz began a family, raising a daughter who eventually entered an abusive relationship, occasionally still needing financial support from Maricruz who is already stretched. 

In Mexico, Maricruz had a career as a civil engineer for the Mexican government —  a designation that was not recognized by the accreditation institutions here in the United States. She came here hoping for a better life, but found she had a difficult time obtaining employment, eventually bringing her to Friedens to help make ends meet. At NourishMKE she was met with warmth and respect, which developed bonds of trust that over time allowed Maricruz to feel safe enough to share her story. She’s been engaged in our network for the last five years, giving of her time, talent, and spirit to help our community, in addition to taking advantage of our services. 

Now in her 60s and with English as her second language, she struggles even more to find work. Hoping to break out of the cycle of poverty that had strapped her for so many years, Maricruz obtained a certificate in the culinary arts which she proudly displayed at a recent visit to our pantry. Unfortunately, these additional qualifications to help her find work arrived just at the time the COVID pandemic took our community by storm. In addition to the ageism, racism, and elitism Maricruz experienced as barriers to employment, now COVID has made the job market increasingly difficult to navigate. 

The support offered by Friedens is needed now more than ever, by individuals like Maricruz, and others like her who have fought uphill battles against systemic barriers to employment, housing, and food access. Reliable access to fresh, healthy food allows Maricruz to stretch her income to pay her rent, support her daughter, and receive consistent nutrition amidst so much other uncertainty. In Friedens she knows she has a community of trust, dignity, and advocacy to support her food needs and more. 

*name has been changed to protect individual’s identity

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