Making ends meet in this tough economy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Making ends meet in this tough economy


As the recession continues to have a tight grasp on the nation's economy, more and more Iowa families are having to face a harsh reality — finding enough money to pay the bills.

The U.S. Census Bureau says that in 2011 a family of four making less than $22,530 a year is considered living in poverty. And in 2010, the percentage of Americans living in poverty rose almost one full point to 15.1 percent. It was 14.3 percent in 2009.

With rising gas and food prices how can a family make it work?

"We don't have enough money to fix anything," Betty Wiegert said.

Wiegert, her husband and teenage son are just like the thousands of other Iowa families who are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.

"Every month it's an issue. We have to, ok, do we have enough for this and this and if we don't then only this and this gets paid," Wiegert explained.

Due to medical reasons, Wiegert had to quit her job. Now her husband, a semi driver, is the sole provider for the family.

"Thank God for his job. I don't know what we would do if he didn't have one. We would probably have to move and sell everything," Wiegert said.

Then add the fact that her family of three recently expanded to a family of seven.

"My daughter and her three kids moved in because she is getting a divorce," Wiegert said.

The Wiegerts are not the only family struggling to stretch every dollar, and there are agencies out there ready to help.

Serving 16 counties, The Northeast Iowa Food Bank sees between 60 to 90 families everyday looking for assistance.

"We mainly look at income, but if someone has had a crisis, they have medical bills, lost their job, we will look at their expenses too because we want to make sure we help the people who need our help," NEIFB Director Barb Prather said.

As more and more Iowans are faced with the current economic crisis, the need for assistance becomes even greater. The pantry says the need rose immediately following the record floods in 2008 and has grown since.

"We are serving about 1,200 families every month. Prior to that it was about 1,000," Prather said.

Back at the Wiegert home, they make it work by cutting expenses wherever they can as Betty continues looking for a job.

"Looking at ads from the grocery stores, getting what we need, going to town once or twice a week as needed," Wiegert said.

The Wiegerts are just trying to save money and cling on to hope for a better future.

"Hope I can get a job some place. Hopefully everything holds up here. Wouldn't hurt if my husband got a raise, but mainly if everything holds up," Wiegert said.

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank is in the midst of a capital campaign to construct a new building. They say that have had to turn down truck loads of food because their current space is just too small.

To learn more about the campaign:


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