Focusing on Food and Family: Justin’s Story

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When Justin came to the United States from Ghana nine years ago, he dreamed of working hard and building a family. Using a love of food and his experience in the food industry of his home country, he quickly found work at a restaurant in northeast D.C. “I love to cook, and this was the perfect opportunity to do what I love and earn a living,” Justin says.

Within a few years, Justin met the love of his life and they got married. Soon, their new home was filling up with three children, all aged within a couple years of each other. And with each passing year, the kids grew bigger. “And so did their appetites,” Justin laughs.

With a growing family, though, came a growing budget. “I make money and have a consistent schedule, but it’s tough,” Justin says. “My wife and I don’t have much room to spare when it comes to paying bills, buying groceries, and getting the resources our kids need for academic success.”

Increasingly, Justin saw that the kids often seemed to lack energy and had trouble focusing on their homework. He worried that they weren’t getting enough to eat, but the budget was stretched as far as it could go. One day, though, his kids’ school notified Justin of a new partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank to offer a monthly Family Market at the school. This new partnership would help provide families with fresh fruits, vegetables and non-perishable, healthy groceries each month right at the school.

“I was so excited,” Justin says. “I thought, wait, I can go once a month and fill a giant bag full of fruits, vegetables, and other good food? I was ecstatic. I’ve been coming here ever since. This market has been a huge help for my family.”

With more healthy food added into the family’s diet, Justin has noticed an improvement in the kids’ energy levels. His oldest will enter eighth grade this fall, and will soon be hard at work on applications to get into the best middle schools. “I’m just so happy she’ll have the food she’ll need to focus on her studies and applications,” Justin grins. And Justin can focus on ensuring his kids have the resources they need for success.