“I felt like the
worst mother on the planet”

From the outside, Renee’s family looked like your typical Australian household…

Behind the scenes, Renee and Grant were making heartbreaking sacrifices just to make ends meet. They would regularly go days without eating just so their children wouldn’t go hungry.

Emily, Nicolaas and Zoe – Renee and Grant’s eldest children – would often skip breakfast to make sure that there was enough bread for everyone’s sandwiches at lunch time.

The hardest weeks, Renee would go days without showering to conserve the gas in their gas bottles for cooking.

An accident would change Grant and Renee’s life forever

The family’s troubles began with a moment of bad luck – the sort that could happen to any one of us at any time. Grant, a tow truck driver by trade, was finishing his work day when he slipped from his truck. He fell over a metre onto the asphalt, breaking six ribs and badly twisting his ankle.

“Our financial troubles began almost immediately. It was shocking how fast things fell apart. With Grant unable to work, we thought his work insurance would cover our bills. But they were only willing to pay a quarter of his wage.”

The pain from his injuries meant Grant was unable to work or to do much help take care of their two young children at home. Renee had no option but to give up her part-time job.

“So any chance that I could make up some of his lost income went out the window.”

Another set back

Just as Grant was beginning to get mobile again, he experienced a hernia that required surgery. This meant more time out, more and medical bills. This time, the insurance company weren’t willing to pay so much as a dollar to help them.

With bills piling up, Renee and Grant began to skip meals, trying to hide the truth from their children.

“When you’re forced to send your kids to school with half a sandwich and half an apple each, and they have to eat that in front of their friends, hiding the truth isn’t possible. And the truth was, I just felt like the absolute worst mother on the planet.”

Hope for the future

Renee and Grant were prepared to starve themselves in order to keep their children fed, but they knew their sacrifices wouldn’t be enough. So Renee seized on the only help she could find.

“I met a wonderful woman called Paula who introduced me to Foodbank. And I went there, and it was beautiful and any shame I felt disappeared as I went through that door.”

Unfortunately, Renee’s story is all too familiar. Cuts to government support are bound to have impacts on the lives of vulnerable Australians – just like Renee and her family.

You can help a family like Renee’s to put food on their tables.