Summer is usually a time when Inland Northwest families can count on paying less for utilities because there are no expenses for heating their homes.
But during a summer of extended high temperatures, families of modest incomes are spending way more money than usual to power fans and air conditioning units to keep their homes at a livable temperature.
Vernecia, a married mother of four children ages 9 to 20, said it has been an expensive summer because of high utility bills. Her husband, Gerald, works full time for a nonprofit that helps men who are released from prison turn their lives around. Vernecia is taking community college classes to earn a degree in social work.
The high bills come at a time when their two sons, ages 9 and 14, are experiencing growth spurts and eat a lot.
“My youngest son wears a size 7 shoe and he is growing rapidly. With the children being home all day during the summer, you are running out of food more often because they can eat all day long,” Vernecia said.
The family turned to a Second Harvest partner food pantry recently to get some food supplies to help with meals for the kids. Vernecia was grateful for the fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk and cereal they received to supplement what they purchase.
“Just knowing we will have food to fill in the gaps really helps a lot,” Vernecia said.