Faces of hunger: The Mitsouras family

November 13, 2012 3:08:49 PM PST
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, hunger is a growing problem nationwide with 15 percent of households now struggling with food insecurity.

That's why, every fall, 6abc partners with Philabundance, the region's largest food bank.

Philabudance estimates there are 900,000 people in the Philadelphia area who don't make enough money to buy food.

That includes people like the Mitsouras family in Northeast Philadelphia.

Joe and his wife, Melinda, have 6 children.

With a family this size, they've always survived paycheck to paycheck. But, in August, Joe - who was a mid-level manager at a high-end shoe store - lost his job when his company downsized.

"In the middle of the night, you kind of wake up frozen. What are we going to do? We have 6 children," Joe said. "You just feel helpless."

To feed their family, they grow what they can in their backyard and supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables from Philabundance.

"They really put a lot of food on our plate," Joe said.

Jan Waldauer started volunteering for Philabundance 7 years ago after she was laid off and took 18 months to find another job.

"You start volunteering you think of food insecurity, 'Oh it's the poor, it's the homeless. These are not homeless people by any means," she said.

"They need extra help so, I think, that has shifted in the last few years with the way the economy is," Jen continued.

At the Mitsouras home, Joe is looking for work while Melinda is in nursing school, a field they hope is more recession-proof than retail.

In the meantime, they rely on Philabundance.

"It really makes a difference, so you take it and you're very thankful and you hope you're not always going to be in that situation," Melinda said.

If you'd like to help families in need this season, click the 6abc Dunkin Donuts holiday food drive page.

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