JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's something we all would like to believe could never happen to any of us: Having to face hunger issues. That's the reality for one family recently reunited and now struggling to survive on the First Coast.
Sadly, this is not just their story. One in every six adults in the state of Florida faces hunger issues. And for children, that number is one in four. During the month of September, First Coast News is shedding light on some desperate situations, helping people to realize that going hungry could happen to any one of us.
The Espinets are not on a family vacation. For now a small hotel room is home. Where they play during the day and sleep closely at night.
"Just being away from them was the most difficult thing in my life," said Ricardo Espinet.
Apart for two years, Espinet found work at LaGuardia airport where he was a baggage handler. His wife Brenda had to stay behind in Southwest Virginia with the kids, where it was affordable for them to live. With Ricardo recently transferred to a job at Jacksonville International Airport, the family of five is determined to make things work.
"Whatever we can do, we're going to do it. I don't care what it takes," said Brenda Espinet.
What it takes at times has been extremely difficult to bear. Like many of us, she clips coupons, reads through the paper for any good deals and tries to purchase off-brand foods. But still, she said living paycheck to paycheck, things aren't adding up.
"It's really hard for me to ask for assistance," said Brenda Espinet. "But we were getting to the point where we were so low on food and the kids weren't eating what we had."
So they turned to the United Community Outreach food pantry, supplied by Second Harvest.
"To keep us going. They're giving us hope every single day," said Ricardo Espinet.
Driven by his love for family, Espinet said he works as many hours as physically possible. Hauling bags all afternoon into the early morning, and then he returns home.
"I love them to death they're my life," said Espinet. "I'm willing to do anything for them."
Brenda Espinet is looking for a job. She said she recently went on an interview at Target.
The family is hopeful that works out so they can get on their feet.
To learn how you can help families like Espinets, visit the Second Harvest website.