Homeless & Starving: Meet Debra

Not too long ago, Debra lived on the streets and survived meal-to-meal. She now receives food assistance from a local food pantry within the Food Bank’s network of Partner Agencies.

“Homeless and starving.”

Debra didn’t hesitate when asked what prompted her visit to the Marillac Food Pantry operated by NTFB Partner Agency Catholic Charities Dallas. Located just a few miles from Interstate 30 in West Dallas and nestled within the Brady Senior Services Center. Last year, this pantry distributed more than 260,000 pounds of food and served 1,300 families. Many like Debra.

Thanks to a friend who offered her a ride, this is Debra’s first visit. When her disability status changed unexpectedly, Debra struggled to make ends meet. Soon she found herself hungry and homeless.

“I would hang out near gas stations,” said Debra. “Some days I would get lucky, and somebody would pass by, and buy me a hotdog or something.”

Debra now lives with her brother and his three young children. “He can’t afford to feed me, and his crew,” she explains, so their arrangement requires she supply her own food. She moved in just a few months ago, and “as long as I get my own food,” Debra says, “then I’m all right.”

While talking, lively music from down the hall can be heard. Senior neighbors gather here daily for meals, activities and services. Posted just outside the pantry is a flyer for flu shots. The squealing of a cart heavy with food suddenly overpowers the music. A pantry volunteer helps a client guide the cart outside. Today the pantry shelves display bags of fresh carrots, potatoes, peppers, radishes and grapes. Stored in refrigerators nearby are milk and meat. Cardboard boxes filled with food line the back wall. Inside are beans, bags of brown rice and other shelf-stable items.

What food is Debra looking forward to receiving today during her visit?

“Whatever they’ll give me,” she replies lightheartedly.

In North Texas, nearly 800,000 neighbors are food-insecure, and do not know where they will find their next meal. Many are homeless, though most are not. But most, like Debra, welcome whatever food they can receive. Every day, the North Texas Food Bank provides our hungry neighbors in need with healthy foods that they likely could not obtain otherwise. For Debra, this food not only provides critical nourishment, but ensures she stays off the streets.

To learn how you can help end hunger in North Texas, visit www.ntfb.org/get-involved.