When a Job Just Isn’t Enough

The headlines keep reminding us that the economy has recovered. But these words ring hollow for the thousands of families in our community still struggling to get by. Early on a brisk Saturday morning, volunteers from Epiphany Lutheran Church arrive at the parking lot of Ibraham Elementary School. In short order, a space inside the school is transformed, lined with tables and shelves stocked with produce, eggs, cereals, canned goods and more. Joyce Kohfeldt, a lead volunteer for the School Pantry, warmly welcomes school families – mothers, fathers and grandparents with young children in tow. A young mother, head bowed low, moves forward in the line. Reaching Joyce, she stops to speak. “I almost didn’t come. It’s so hard letting anyone know what kind of shape my family is in.” Walking the woman inside, Joyce tries to reassure her: “It’s okay. We’re here to help.” Later that morning, with the last family attended to, Joyce sits down to explain a few things. “Economic recovery…well, that’s just not something these families are experiencing,” she said. Joyce explains that while the majority of families coming to the School Pantry have jobs, typically it’s part-time work or two part-time jobs stitched together to try and make a whole. Regardless, the resulting income is not enough. Joyce recognizes the exhaustion in parents who have to make endless tough choices because the ends simply...

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