This Military Family Was Relying on a Food Bank to Survive—Until This TV Segment Changed Their Lives

Elena Nicolaou
·2 min read
This Military Family Was Relying on a Food Bank to Survive—Until This TV Segment Changed Their Lives

From Oprah Daily

Desiree Alvarez was struggling to make ends meet for her family during the COVID-19 pandemic. After her husband, who is serving in the military, was transferred to a base near Tacoma, WA, Alvarez lost her job, and was unable to find work. She was relying on a food bank to feed her 3-year-old son Elijah and 6-year-old daughter Marysol.

"We're really tired of it. I need to find a job," Alvarez said in a CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell segment in February 2021 that profiled military families coping with food insecurity.

After sharing her story on the news, Alvarez's employment situation turned around, thanks to the generosity of viewers. Following the broadcast, more than 4,000 viewers donated $600,000 collectively to the Military Advisory Family Network, an organization that helps military families in need, CBS News reported.

But Tory Adams-Pittman, a viewer based in in Tampa, Florida, was particularly moved by Alvarez's story. "She stole my heart," Adams-Pittman told CBS. She was able to get in contact with Alvarez and offered her a job.

Now, Alvarez is working remotely from her home Washington as an account manager for Pittman's solar panel installation company. "This means the world to me. This is literally financial stability," Alvarez said in a follow-up segment.

For Adams-Pittman, this act marks a full-circle moment. Once, she was also a military spouse in a similar situation. Adams-Pittman recalled foraging for aluminum cans to exchange for money while her husband was serving in the Navy.

Kay, the other person featured in the special (whose last name was redacted), was also in a dire situation.

"I cannot feed my kids," Kay said. Her husband is an E-5 sergeant at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. His take-home pay of $3,000 is "not enough" to support their family of six, she shared.

The two families featured on CBS are far from alone: Since the pandemic hit, one study found that nearly 40 percent of active-duty service members cope with food insecurity; for minority members, it's more than half. This issue predates the pandemic: A 2018 study found that military families reported difficulty making ends meet at twice the rate of civilian families, the main reason being that the family’s nonmilitary partner, like Alvarez, struggled with unemployment or underemployment.

Through the special, Kay found a position assisting the Military Family Advisory Network with its food distribution and outreach at her husband's military base. The story is an example of generosity in action. CBS viewers' donations will pay for more than 1 million meals for military families.

Donate to the Military Family Advisory Network

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