Latinos are proud. We are proud of our culture and our character. At times, our pride can lead us to be stubborn. But when it comes to asking for help with essentials in the middle of a pandemic, we shouldn’t be.
Growing up, I was taught by my parents to not ask for help because I needed to learn how to be self-sufficient. As I got older, I learned to do things myself. I live alone. I work for all my income.
However, in these difficult times, I’ve had to throw my own pride out the window.
I’ve never used a food pantry in my life before the COVID-19 era. Being raised in a middle-class family in an urban city in northern California, I’ve never had to ask for food, shelter or help for basic needs. I didn’t have to because my family worked hard to provide for me. But as I transitioned to adulthood and started living on my own, it has become challenging to maintain even basic needs. I lost my retail job at the start of the pandemic and it’s been difficult to find a new one. Money is so tight that I finally gave in. I went to a local food pantry and got some free food.
When I first went, I felt embarrassed and a little ashamed for taking food. Somehow in my mind, it was engraved that taking food for free is wrong. I was taught since elementary school that if you didn’t work hard or pay for what you need, then you didn’t earn it. You should have worked harder instead of taking the easy way out.
I still have my principles, but right now, I don’t have any other choice but to accept the help.
The volunteers at the pantry were nice and made me feel comfortable. Not only did the food I receive from the pantry feed me for the rest of the week, but it took one less financial worry off my shoulders. Now that I have used a food pantry twice, I think that students or people who need help should not be afraid to utilize it.
Using a food pantry is not a matter of choice when you’re struggling. That’s what they’re there for: to assist even the proudest people so that they can focus on all the other financial issues in their lives.