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Tammy Pearsall: 'I don't know what I'd do if I had to provide for anyone else'

Tammy Pearsall, 52, of Front Royal, gathers canned fruits and vegetables inside the food pantry. Pearsall, who is diabetic, has to make sure she receives the right foods for her diet. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Kim Walter

FRONT ROYAL -- Tammy Pearsall has been a patron of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry for the past two years, and it doesn't look like she'll cease visiting any time soon.

The 52-year-old receives a little more than $700 a month to meet basic needs. In addition to help from social services, she was collecting $68 a month in food stamps.

However, after a $40 billion cut to the nation's food stamp program was approved last month, Pearsall was notified that she would instead receive about $50 a month.

"It doesn't sound like much, but I rely on that so I can get the food I'm supposed to eat," she said Wednesday.

Pearsall is a Type 2 diabetic and requires a diet that's rich in vegetables, lean protein and other healthy foods. She said that those foods, which help control her blood sugar, are more expensive.

On top of that, she said she has found that her Medicare plan hardly covers any medications and prescriptions.

Even though she frequents the local C-CAP and Salvation Army pantries, Pearsall continues coming back to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry because of the options.

"Some of the other pantries just give you a box with food that's been picked out," she said. "It usually covers the basics, but like I said, I'm diabetic and I need a few extra things."

Pearsall was happy to hear on Wednesday night that the pantry had just received a large donation of potatoes, and she would be allowed to take an extra bag.

"It's kind of funny that I can actually get good, fresh food here, but it's something I have to skip when I go to the store," she said. "I just can't afford it."

As Pearsall waited in line for her turn to walk through the pantry, she said she was thankful for one thing in particular -- that her children were grown.

"I don't know what I'd do if I had to provide for anyone else," she said. "I get down about my situation, but at least mine is the only mouth I have to worry about feeding."

The friendly atmosphere also brings Pearsall back. As she started her shopping experience at the food pantry, she was paired up with a volunteer who also has Type 2 diabetes.

"Don't worry, we'll get you what you need," the woman told Pearsall.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com

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