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Refugee Family Update: Food Programs & Groceries

Tuesday we kept our WIC appointment. There the father’s WIC card was adjusted by a competent and pleasant Affinia staffer, the company that is contracted to supervise this food program in Missouri. We learned that her husband had worked for Louisa Food Products several years ago. Her good memories of her husband’s job supported the Afghan father’s recent job choice, where nine of the many employees are from Afghanistan.


We often turn a jaundiced eye on those receiving, for free, a thing that most of us have to pay for. But if I had a WIC card, I would be attending a mandatory appointment monthly, my food purchases could not include skim milk, only whole, no sliced cheese unless it is a store brand, and nothing marked organic. I relearned these restrictions while shopping with the Afghan father. And as well as I could, I showed him the cost difference between Tylenol and its generic equivalent. I am glad I’m not poor.


He showed me how to choose parsley, pick tomatoes and told me how his three year old loves bananas. He called his wife as we shopped, and got egg and milk instructions. When I am with him, I keep encouraging him to buy yogurt. Anticipating another arm-over-the-shoulder rundown on its benefits, he quickly noted that his daughter “no like." I think he kept it simple for me so that I would get it. I finally got it.


We checked out, he had to pay a considerable portion with cash because the monthly allotment already was down to the nubbins. I left him with several bags of six to twelve month boy-clothes. A congregant happened to have a grand baby just a bit bigger than the family’s youngest. That baby will be getting a nice second-hand wardrobe.


The most amazing thing to happen this week was a two stage gift. While waiting for his SNAP card all through February, which came late due to an apparent mailbox theft, the family ran up a debt at a local food store. A congregant from our church decided to partly relieve that debt. The congregant, who was engaged in veteran causes, paid a visit to that local food store and made a large payment. A week later, that same congregant decided to pay the remainder. For me, this gift said, “we really do know what you did for us, and thank you”.


Our end, with this family, is in sight. But two more opportunities wait in the wings, one depending on a driver’s license, the other depending on improved English. We will report on those, soon.

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