No one ever expects to have to ask for help — most people exhaust their resources before taking this step. But the financial devastation caused by the pandemic, along with skyrocketing food and gas prices, have forced many Silicon Valley residents to seek food assistance.

Diana and her husband are raising their family of five, including Kaylee (14), Keyla (7) and Kendra (2), in their one-bedroom apartment in San Jose, where they have lived for the past 10 years. When shelter-in-place orders went into effect, Diana’s husband was out of work for four months and they were unable to pay their rent.

Already reeling from the loss of income during shelter in place, their car then broke down and they were unable to afford repairs. Diana felt ashamed accepting help from her friends, so when she wasn’t relying on public transportation, she walked to get her kids to where they needed to go—so much so that she began to lose more and more weight.

Diana began visiting a Second Harvest walk-up free grocery distribution in San Jose at the beginning of 2022 when saving money became impossible. Her husband brings home less money as a roofing contractor in the winter months due to rain, so the family also relies on CalFresh benefits and Diana’s part-time job to help them get by.

Diana is grateful that her family is healthy and that they can share a home-cooked meal together. While gathering at home with loved ones during the holidays is a tradition for some households, Diana always hopes her family will be invited to a friend’s house for holiday meals. With five people living in a one-bedroom apartment, there isn’t enough space to host dinner guests or even put up a Christmas tree. Despite the struggles her busy family has faced over the last two and a half years, Diana is thankful it has brought them closer together.