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Betty, Manhattan food pantry guest

"Fortunately I had a mother and father who took care of us. They weren't rich, but they made do and we never had to be on welfare. Plus, I have a college education and served in the U.S. Army, in a medical unit. So I really didn't want to go through having to rely on public assistance.

"I have friends who need regular assistance. Fortunately that didn't happen to me and my family, but I admit, there was one time I did need it. And I felt that I was blessed to be able to find help.

"I'm not on public assistance any more, thank god, but it's still a struggle. I work for a health care agency, but it's not enough. And I'm getting too old to work. I go grocery shopping about once a month. I buy the essentials I need for nutrients. What I need to survive.

"After talking to a neighbor two years ago, she brought me here to the soup kitchen. I've always come to the tax assistance program here, but I never thought about coming for food. Now I come twice a week. I couldn't get by without this."

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