"Light at the end of the tunnel": Military families turning to food banks receive outpouring of support
CBS News met Desiree Alvarez, an Army wife of an E-3 private and the mother of Elijah and Marysol, in February on her way to a food bank. Her family was one of thousands of military families struggling with hunger during the pandemic. "We don't want to have to rely on a food bank. We are really tired of it. I really need to find a job," she said at the time.
Since then, "CBS Evening News" viewers had a strong reaction to the story: More than 4,000 collectively donated $600,000 to the Military Family Advisory Network. The donations will help pay for more than 1 million meals for military families, the organization said.
Tory Adams-Pittman in Tampa, Florida, was one of those who heard Alvarez's story.
"She stole my heart. Like, how can we help?" Adams-Pittman said. "So I called her."
She offered Alvarez a job working from home in Washington state.
"I learned more about the company, more about her, like I just exploded," said Alvarez, who now works as an account manager for a solar panel installation company and makes $43,000 a year. "This means the world to me. This is literally financial stability."
Adams-Pittman said she went through a similar situation decades ago as a military spouse. Her ex-husband was in the Navy and when they moved to their first duty station, they weren't receiving their food allowance, she said.
"We were literally pushing trash cans in his classrooms to collect cans from people to turn that into change, to buy groceries," Adams-Pittman said.
"I always knew one day I would pay forward the kindness others showed us. I never knew it would be 20 years later," she said.
Alvarez said she can finally "see the light at the end of the tunnel."
CBS News also met another military spouse, Kay, who didn't want her last name used for privacy reasons. Kay is now assisting the Military Family Advisory Network with its food distribution and outreach at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
Both of the families are receiving gift cards for groceries for the rest of the year.
The Military Family Advisory Network said the organization will take a three-pronged approach to deliver support to military families in need.
"First, immediate food relief through local partnerships. Secondly, connecting families to ongoing support and resources. Third, conducting research to understand and ultimately address underlying factors that lead to food insecurity among military families," said Military Family Advisory Network president Shannon Razsadin. "This program will provide meaningful impact for families who serve today and those who will follow."
For more information on how to help military families, visit: www.combatmilitaryhunger.org.
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