‘I just want to provide for my son and make sure he grows up healthy’

Rosaria Castro, 28, is a single mother who lives with her boyfriend and her 8-year-old son. She is a cashier at Stop & Shop.

This profile is part of the series, “The New Jersey 37” which focuses on residents making up 37 percent of households in the state that cannot afford basic needs such as health care, housing, food, childcare, and transportation.

Xingyu Huang: In what ways has food insecurity affected you or your family in the past year?

RC: Luckily, my family has not experienced any issues with food security in the past year. I am thankful for that. We have been food insecure in the past when my son was just a baby because of medical bills. That was a very difficult time for the both of us.

XH: Do you currently receive benefits from government food programs like SNAP or WIC? If so, which programs?

RC: We are enrolled in SNAP. It has helped us buy healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. The farmer’s market close by accepts SNAP and that’s really good because that lets me buy fresh and healthy ingredients.

XH: Do you receive assistance through any other means?

RC: My dad sends me money from time to time, he lives in Georgia. My son is also in the free lunch program at school. My neighbor downstairs sometimes offers to take care of my son, she has a son the same age.

XH: How much does your household spend on food per week? Month?

RC: I honestly haven’t been keeping track, but I would say less than $100 a week. We mostly eat at home, but sometimes if I’m working late I will pick up food on the way home.

XH: Have you experienced any negative health effects as a result of the food you eat?

RC: No, lucky for us we are able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. My son eats a healthy meal at school. I try to get him to eat less candy and junk food because it’s not good for his health and his teeth.

XH: What are the biggest factors determining your food security.

RC: I would say my job and my dad. SNAP definitely helps a lot as well. Mainly, I just want to provide for my son and make sure he grows up healthy.

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