The pandemic has affected us in ways that we see in the news every day: high gas prices, record inflation, and supply chain problems. But a hidden result of the pandemic is the emotional burden of stress. It affected all of us but strained low-income families the most.

Irma (47) and her son (27) live in a mobile home that she inherited when her mother passed away in 2019. Irma says going through the heartbreak and loneliness of losing the family matriarch and her best friend, together with the stress and uncertainty of losing her job as a dental assistant at the start of the pandemic, was devastating. She couldn’t get out of bed and realized she was experiencing depression.

Irma and her four brothers have gotten closer since their mother’s passing, and the brothers have offered both emotional and financial support to help their only sister with some of her expenses. Irma went back to work full time plus got a second job on the weekends and her son is now working as an assistant chef at an Italian restaurant in Berkeley. She says he not only helps pay the rent for their mobile home’s parking spot every month, but he also makes her beautifully plated meals like he typically gives his patrons at his restaurant from the food they receive from their Second Harvest food distribution in Alviso. She just wishes he would make her bigger portions.

Irma is not ashamed of receiving food from Second Harvest and will gladly continue to ask for help during these tough times as she climbs out of debt. She is grateful for her son, her family unity and Second Harvest for giving her hope and motivating her to get out of bed every day.