Meet Patty and Mark

A Vermont family overcomes challenges to provide hope for the next generation.

Mark and Patty

Patty lives in Barre with her husband, Mark, and their children. For years, both Patty and Mark worked long hours as LNAs to make ends meet. But once they had children, two of whom are autistic, it became impossible for them both to work those long hours. Since then, things have been challenging for their family.

Patty and Mark’s income and monthly 3SquaresVT (known as SNAP nationally, and formerly called food stamps) benefits are not enough to afford the healthy food they need to raise growing children. They struggle to pay their rent and their bills, and often are forced to make difficult choices in order to feed their family.

Patty, who has worked as a food services coordinator at a homeless shelter, is familiar with the need in her community. “There is so much judgment towards people who need help, but they are all struggling with real challenges and doing their best, just like my family and I are.”

That judgment makes everything harder to navigate. Patty doesn’t like to use her 3SquaresVT benefits because she is embarrassed. When grocery shopping, she often fills up the cart but makes her husband go through the checkout line. “This is how judgment hurts,” she says. Patty wants a better life for her children, one where their needs are met and they do not feel shame for doing the best that they can.

At their elementary school, Patty’s son and daughter are able to go “shopping” at the Vermont Foodbank’s VeggieVanGo produce events. Along with their fellow students, they select free fresh fruits and vegetables while enjoying samples of the healthy food. “Not only is this helping with hunger, but it is also teaching life skills to our children. They bring the food home and are so proud to be able to provide food for our family,” says Patty.
“It brings people together — students, parents, teachers, bus drivers — and teaches children not to be ashamed,” she continues. “It feels like it’s all okay. All the kids can take a bag of apples. It isn’t just you.” Patty’s family especially enjoys the eggs, produce, and the healthy food they bring home from these events.

As Patty looks to the future, she just wants her kids to have the best lives possible. And things are looking up. Mark was able to find a good job and was recently promoted to store manager. They both hope that this will lead to a new chapter for their family. While they are working toward this goal, your support is making the difference and ensuring that Patty, Mark, and their children have healthy food today so that they can plan for a better tomorrow.

You can help ensure that families like Patty and Mark’s have access to the nutritious food they need. Click here to donate: