More than 30 years ago, Thoupo and her family came to the United States seeking refuge from the war in Cambodia.
After she emigrated, Thoupo began working in a factory that made car parts in Michigan. The workplace initially accommodated her disability – which requires her to sit down intermittently – but after 25 years, their policies changed and Thoupo’s chair was taken away, forcing her to leave.
“I get help from family and friends,” she said. “Also, I have disability checks which I use to pay for the bills.”
These days, there are a lot of bills, especially medical bills, as she takes care of her husband, who has osteoporosis.
To make ends meet, Thoupo gets food from a Mobile Pantry in Holland, Michigan. The pantry works with the Feeding America West Michigan food bank.
“I come get the food for him because he cannot,” she said.
Thanks to the Mobile Food Pantries, Thoupo is able to cook the food she likes for both herself and her husband.
“They have a variety of food that usually I don’t buy. I like it a lot,” she said. “I cook for myself – stirfry, soup. Lots of soup!”
Thoupo credits the food – especially the soup – for helping her get through Michigan’s long winters.
“I love the four seasons and the opportunity that I can live and go to work and get my life balance,” she said.
Paired with Thoupo’s bright smile is her caring heart. Whenever she is able, she shares what she cooks with others – usually her son and sister. She tries to arrive early to each Mobile Pantry she attends, so that she can lend a hand.
“I just like to help out a little,” she said. “Not just to come and get (food).”