We won’t let our seniors go hungry

Synthia grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – Amish Country. “It was quiet, a good place to live,” she said. “My mother was ill. And I came out to California to help take care of her.”

“Then I went into home care. That was a fulfilling job,” she said. “In 1998, I had to retire. My knees gave out. I worked too hard.”

Ortencia was born in Madera when it was still a small town.

“I went one year to high school and I started working and I haven’t stopped,” she said. “I just thought I was going to have an easy life after I retired. But it’s not so.”

Synthia and Ortencia are just two of our neighbors struggling with hunger in their golden years.

“Last week, I was here and I hadn’t eaten all day,” Synthia told us. “But when I went to get something to eat, guess what? There wasn’t anything here.

“And I know I’m not by myself.”

Alameda County Community Food Bank responds to more than 3,300 calls for emergency food each month. More than one third are from seniors with nowhere left to turn.

“When I think of my grandmother Katherine, the last place I want to imagine her is standing in a food line,” said Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Food Bank. “Yet for many seniors in Alameda County, that’s where they end up.”

As waves of Baby Boomers retire, the Food Bank is bracing for senior hunger to double. But we won’t let our seniors go hungry.

“Seniors are especially vulnerable to hunger because the cost of living has risen, but fixed incomes aren’t keeping pace,” said Krista Lucchesi, director of the Mercy Brown Bag program. Her agency is one of 240 community organizations we serve.

“Living on a fixed income is a job,” Synthia said.

“They have to worry about if they can turn on their heat, if they can get a bus ticket, before they think about their food budget,” Krista said.

“In the past I’ve had times where I figured, ‘Well, if I go buy my medication, I won’t have any money for food,’” said Ortencia. “This way, when I got and get help with food, then I can afford to go to the doctor.”

But there’s so much more work to be done.

“The latest census says that there are over 30,000 seniors in Alameda County who are living in poverty,” Krista said. “We serve 4,000 of those seniors.”

“With all of the in-kind support from the Food Bank, we are able to take less than $100 and stretch it to give a low-income senior two bags of groceries every single month all year long,” Krista said. “The food itself is keeping them healthy but it’s so much more about being able to afford the things in life just to survive.”

Your support means more food, in more cupboards. More deliveries. Fuller grocery bags. Fewer empty stomachs. And no tough decisions.

“Healthy food should not be a luxury,” said Suzan. “Thank goodness there’s the Food Bank, which provides food and hope to seniors in our community.”

Thanks to you.

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