INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. — Ashley DePover now lives happily in an apartment in Inver Grove Heights. She shares the space with her husband, Daniel, her 22-month-old son, Theo, and two cats, Noah and Harrison. They moved in last year.
"It was overwhelming when we first moved in, it was very overwhelming," DePover said.
This was partly because it's the first time she's had an entire place for just her family, without sharing it with roommates or family. It was also overwhelming because they had just exited a situation where, for 11 weeks, they had no home at all.
"In February of last year… after some family stuff, we became homeless and had to stay with some family and friends for about 11 weeks," she said. "We didn’t always have access to a stable kitchen, whether it was just not access to one or just not wanting to intrude on other people’s spaces because we are a family of three."
When they finally moved into their place in Inver Grove Heights, DePover had the kitchen her family had wanted. However, they didn't have the resources to stock it full of food.
"That got expensive, just between the cost of moving, and storage, and gas, and rising prices and having to completely restart all over and fill a whole kitchen. Really a whole apartment worth of things, and we didn’t have anything," she said.
Having grown up in a home where her family utilized food pantries, DePover called up The Open Door Pantry in Eagan.
"I made an appointment and bit the bullet and went in. They were so welcoming, that I continued to go just to keep my family fed and give us that extra cushion because gas gets expensive or car repairs or things like that," she said.
DePover is now able to get staples like bread, milk, and eggs; meats; and fresh produce, like fruits, vegetables and herbs.
"Theo loves his fruits and vegetables. Especially the fruits. So it’s great to be able to go in there and bring home apples and oranges or potatoes and onions…he loves his carrots, things like that. To make sure he’s getting the nutrients that he loves that are good for him," she said.
She wants to share her story in hopes that others who may find themselves in a similar situation don't feel afraid to ask for help.
"I just want people to know that food shelves, in general, are there. They’re there to help people and there shouldn’t be a stigma attached to that because you gotta do what you gotta do for your family."
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