Thousands of veterans were served at the Food Depository’s two VA food pantries

Ronald Cross’ smile lights up a room. It is warm, honest, welcoming. It’s a window into his personality.

“I try to stay as positive as I can,” he said.

On a recent Thursday, Ronald was signing in at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital food pantry, and his smile was infectious. He was hugging volunteers and talking to others waiting to receive food.

His positive attitude doesn’t waiver, even though he’s facing a challenging time.

“This is my second time at the pantry,” he said. “It’s been a big help.”

Ronald is a United States Marine Corps veteran. He served in Asia from 1978 – 1986. After coming home, he worked as a maintenance technician, but lost his job in 2014. Now, he’s struggling with unemployment and has trouble affording food.

“I don’t have food to fill the fridge at the end of the month,” he said. “It can be hard.”

Ronald also has diabetes, which he has difficulty managing without nutritious food. That’s why he started coming to the veterans pantry.

“The pantry helps me eat healthy, and that is really important for my diabetes,” Ronald said.

Ronald receives fresh fruit and vegetables at the pantry in addition to milk, eggs, protein and shelf-stable groceries.

And thanks to that food and his positive attitude Ronald’s doing well – and still smiling.

“The pantry has helped me a lot. It’s enabled me to stay positive.”

Ronald Cross, United States Marine Corps veteran

Ronald was just one of thousands of veterans served at the Food Depository’s two VA food pantries in fiscal year 2015-2016. The pantries at Hines VA and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center served more than 35,500 individuals combined. Additionally, the Food Depository provided hot meals and bags of food for 1,256 homeless veterans at two Stand Down events last year and assisted 401 veterans with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits applications.