West St. Paul woman, who was once homeless, now delivering food to families in need

Jyssica Williams (FOX 9)

The pandemic has forced many families on the brink to choose whether they pay the rent or put food on the table.

It's a difficult choice that a West St. Paul woman knows all too well and what it's like to go without. Now, she's going above and beyond to give people a hand up.

You could call her the food pantry fairy godmother. But just three years ago, Jyssica Williams was homeless. She has since turned her life around and now she's determined to serve others, especially as this pandemic has crushed families both financially and mentally.

"When I hear that that's all they're eating it saddens my heart," she said.

The mother of three has long been an active volunteer in her community and teamed up with the Salvation Army to deliver as much food to hungry and vulnerable people as she can.

Each week, she goes to the food pantry on West Seventh Street in St. Paul to load up her van and she has a list of complete strangers who have heard of her selfless acts through word of mouth or social media.

"I went on Facebook Live and said, 'Hey I got all this food is there anybody in need,'" she recalled. "'If you don't drive, if you're elderly, if you're not working, whatever the situation, if you're really in need, I will deliver it to you."

The Salvation Army says they've never seen so many families come in for meals. They are serving around 300 per day. Normally, it's 300 per week.

"We are hearing stories every day, not just from people who are telling us this is the only food my family has," Lt. Jonathan Taube with the Salvation Army explained. "But even folks who say I used to be a donor, I used to be a volunteer and now here I am asking for this food box because I'm in a place I've never been before."

But Jyssica has and she knows people have better days ahead of them -- that's why she keeps reaching out to lend a hand to let families know it's going to be ok.

"I'm just one person there is always something you can do," she said.

And Jyssica says that she can't do all of this alone so if you feel compelled to donate food or make a financial contribution, get in touch with your local Salvation Army Service Center.