Meet Brittany and her daughters

Brittany’s oldest daughters pause while eating lunch to pose for the camera.

A single mother of three doing her best to make ends meet, Brittney has mastered being resourceful and preparing meals on a budget. Now she is using her skills as a chef and photographer to share her recipes in a new series on the Foodbank Blog! This is Brittany’s story.

Brittany is a single mother in Rutland, raising three young daughters ranging from one to five years of age. She went to college in California for photography and loves art, and cooking for others.

Brittany isn’t working at the moment because she struggles with chronic illness and has had nine surgeries in the past year. It makes it impossible for her to do physical labor, so for now she is focusing on getting healthy and caring for her daughters.

Just after her second daughter was born, Brittany separated from her children’s father. She wasn’t able to work because she had just had her baby, and she suddenly found herself in a position where she couldn’t afford to pay her bills and was at risk of losing her apartment.

Grocery shopping can be tricky when funds are low, but Brittany’s girls know how to keep it fun!

Fortunately, she was able to turn to 3SquaresVT (SNAP, formerly food stamps) for help feeding her family. But it wasn’t enough to meet the needs of her growing children. Despite meticulous meal planning, she says, “food stamps doesn’t last with three little girls that eat a bunch. It doesn’t last the month.”

But things are looking up. The Rutland Parent Child Center, a local organization dedicated to meeting the needs of local children and families, began offering food assistance in partnership with the Vermont Foodbank earlier this year.

“It’s very, very helpful!” Brittany says. She doesn’t have a car, so she especially appreciates that the Rutland Parent Child Center delivers the food right to her home, every week. “So when we’re out of basic things like vegetables, or milk, or things we need, they just bring it to us once a week. So I don’t have to worry as much about how I’m going to get to the store and get [my daughters] food to eat – or how I’m going to pay for it, when I have no more food stamps.” Brittany and her family haven’t run out of food since these deliveries began.

Brittany’s voice brightens when she talks about the staff at the Rutland Parent Child Center and the wholesome food they share with Brittany and her family. “It’s usually fresh food and vegetables. We get apples, kale, bok choy, celery, and potatoes – a lot of stuff that’s really useful to make stews. […] You can make anything out of it when you have nothing.” And her kids love it. “They get so excited every week to look through the box and see what they have. So […] I wait until they get home from school and daycare and they go through it for me and help me put it away. And they love it, they’re so excited! They also help me figure out what to cook with it.” Their favorite is homemade mac and cheese.

Cooking is a real love of Brittany’s. She knows how important it is to be thoughtful about meal planning when trying to feed three kids on a limited budget. And through practice, she has learned to be a great and resourceful cook. “There’s so much you can make! You just need to know how to improvise,” she says. And she shares this love with her daughters, who get excited to help out in the kitchen, working together to make their favorite foods.

Brittany’s love of cooking pairs well with her background in photography. She crafts beautiful dishes of food into art that she can capture with her camera. When the Vermont Foodbank saw some of her food photographs, it was clear that Brittany has a talent to share. She has kindly offered to be a guest writer for the Vermont Foodbank’s blog to share her recipes and art with others. No doubt her tasty recipes and mouthwatering photos will be helpful to all of us who need some new ideas to make our next meal extra special.

Though times are hard right now, Brittany is hopeful and eager to share her food and help others. She is looking to the future with plans to go back to college to become a teacher. She looks forward to a life where she is financially stable and can buy a home for herself and her daughters. And as she works towards these goals, Brittany is grateful to be able to turn to the Vermont Foodbank and the Rutland Parent Child Center for help.

Stay tuned for Brittany’s guest blog series, In the Kitchen with the Colletts, coming soon!