Eastern Illinois Foodbank
2405 North Shore Drive
Urbana, IL 61802
Phone (217) 328-3663

Tonya and James' Story

Tonya and James are the proud parents of 6 kids. Tonya has chronic fractures in her ankles, and needs medical assistance to be able to pay for her treatment. She estimates she needs about $197 per month for medicines—much of which is, thankfully, covered by her aid.

Tonya and James receive SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits, and she works. But she only makes $8.50 per hour for two hours a day, and her family’s SNAP benefit is limited to around $300 per month—or $13 per person per week. She has looked for work, but worries that if she gets a better paying job, her benefits will be even lower, and she doesn’t think her increased income would be enough to compensate.

When asked whether her SNAP benefit allows her to buy adequate healthy food options—fruits and vegetables—Tonya laughs. “No, but we just buy them anyway. They’re important.” And the benefits don’t last long. “Generally, I’ll spend our whole benefit for the family in 1 shopping trip,” she explains, though she adds that she always tries to keep about $40 aside to buy fresh bread weekly and the occasional birthday cake for the kids. She constantly worries about where she’ll find basic household goods like towels, sheets, and laundry soap.

To make it work, Tonya and James frequent Grace Lutheran Church’s food pantry, which they say is a big reason they’re able to get food on the table at all.