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BackPack Buddies bridges gap for single mom

Posted July 5
Updated July 6

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— When Lateisha Sallah lost her job in the closure of the Garner ConAgra plant, she struggled to support herself and her two daughters. An explosion that rocked the plant in June 2009 killed three, injured 40 others and eventually cost Sallah and her co-workers her job.

"We tried to rebuild, get everything back on track, they decided to go elsewhere with it," she said.

In the year before the plant's 2011 shutdown, Sallad had kidney failure, and she faced dialysis three days a week. Sallah and her two daughters lived on disability.

"We really struggled," Sallah said. "We became homeless."

Catholic Charities helped her family survive. Sallah was able to save enough money so that she and her daughter, Jasmin, could buy a home. But they still worried about having enough food. That's where another charity stepped in.

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle helped Sallah to feed her family, and the Backpack Buddies program made sure Jasmin had something to eat when times were toughest.

BackPack Buddies provides meals for children to eat on the weekend, when they don't have access to meals at school.

"BackPack Buddies was a hand up for me and my family," Sallah said.

Since her layoff, Sallah is learning to be a nurse. She is working part-time, and, after almost seven years of dialysis, her dad is giving her a kidney.

It's just one more gift to help her get her life back on track.

She's grateful to those who have made it possible through donations to the food shuttle.

"It might seem simple, but it really means a lot to somebody who doesn't have," she said. "I really appreciate it. I don't know where we'd be without it."

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