TJC Story Blog

Sept 2021

A Time When Nutrition Programs are Needed Most

Tennessee families struggled to afford nutritious foods and pay their bills before the pandemic, but one Memphis mom has had an extremely tough time since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. She and her husband moved to Tennessee from out of state 15 years ago and started a family. They now live in Memphis with their 6 children. They became eligible for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) in March of 2020, which is the only food support they receive. She shared that P-EBT was extremely helpful to her family. When school is in session, her children participate in the free school meal program, so she never had to worry about if they would have hot and nutritious meals for lunch. Now that they are all at home, she struggles to afford enough food for each child.

Memphis schools closed during March of 2020 meaning that all six of her children transitioned to at-home learning. Her husband, who is self-employed, had to take time off when he and the rest of the family began feeling symptoms and then tested positive for COVID-19. He was out of work for 2 weeks and eventually lost his job. At the same time, their extended family started showing COVID-19 symptoms and her mother fell ill. She and her mother both landed in the hospital with double pneumonia, which ultimately led to the passing of her mother. While fighting for her life, she was simultaneously trying to care for her dying mother and her 6 children who were also sick with the virus. Two of her children struggled with chronic illnesses before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has increased the severity of their symptoms.

She explained how nutrition safety net programs like P-EBT take some of the weight off families who have been impacted by the health and economic crisis associated with COVID-19. However, without the support of WIC and SNAP, the family struggles to put healthy food on the table for their children.