It’s 7am on a Saturday and 35 degrees outside. A well-dressed, happy-go-lucky man is standing in line at a local food distribution. His cheery disposition is surprising given the time, temperature, and circumstance. His hat caught my eye so I sparked up a conversation with him.
Ed served in the Airborne Army for seven years then became a mailman for thirty-eight years, with just three years left until retirement. One day, as he was driving 60mph, a pick-up truck dashed in front of him and his car ended up beneath it; crushed. The accident occurred off the job and left him unable to work. He had to have his back and left foot fused, injured both rotator cuffs and neck, and more.
The accident forced Ed to retire with 55% of his benefits, leaving his salary $8,000 less a year than it would have been at retirement age. He pays $8,500 a year to retain his high-end postal insurance plus MediCare. Ed describes he and his wife as being insurance poor. In order to protect their health, they are left with no disposable income. Any remaining money they have each month goes towards gas, housing, and utilities. It was more afforable for Ed’s wife to take care of their children rather than work, but the lack of social security makes them wish she had. She now pieces togeher work with the VA home, the census, and the upcoming election. They are just one car problem away from losing their transportation.
Ed helps at multiple sites because he believes in working for the food he receives. The dry goods, meat, and produce that they receive from food distributions allow them to barely stay afloat. He exclaims that if it weren’t for the food they receive from pantries and Neighborhood Markets they would be in much worse shape. Pure joy spread across Ed’s face as I watched him receive pork, dry goods, oranges, bread, and more. Ed’s story is a raw reminder of how unexpected circumstances throw people into poverty.