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Faces of Hunger: Seniors

The Regional Food Bank provides help to those many consider the most vulnerable in our state: our senior citizens. Sadly, many have outlived their families, outlived their income, or have simply been forgotten.

The Senior Feeding program started as a pilot program of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in 2006. Food distributed at nine Oklahoma City Housing Authority senior housing sites helped seniors with monthly sacks of food, as well as fresh produce, bread and other perishable items.

In addition to the housing sites, the Food Bank was able to develop a referral and evaluation system designed to refer especially needy seniors from mobile meal programs to the Senior Feeding program. These seniors receive supplemental sacks of nonperishable, open and eat foods to assure they have food.

When asked how the program helped them this year, seniors responded:

  • “It helps me from going hungry.”
  • “It helps a lot since it comes at the end of the month when I am out of food. I appreciate the help.”
  • “It made the difference between eating every day of the month and having to skip meals, or eating as little as a hot dog for the entire day.”

While this program has made inroads, more must be done. The Food Bank will further expand the Senior Feeding program in Oklahoma County by adding additional mobile meal providers and other senior sites. The model for the program, for mobile meal referrals and for food to be distributed has been tested and adapted, with feedback from seniors helping to develop and improve the program.

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You Bring Hope in Hard Times

Frank

Frank has worked hard his whole life to provide for his family. After serving four years overseas with the United States Air Force, he spent decades making a living as a painter to support his wife and seven children.

Raising a family together brought Frank and his wife the greatest joy of their lives. But now that the children are grown, life is harder than Frank expected. His wife passed away on Mother's Day four years ago. They had been married for 30 years and he still misses her terribly.

Now Frank is legal guardian to his grandson, and also provides a home for his grown son as he struggles to make ends meet. His son has been working as a roofer, but his hours have been cut back significantly because of weather and the economy. Frank receives Social Security and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, but it's not nearly enough to pay for rent, utility bills, medications and food. He doesn't receive food stamps, so oftentimes he and his family just don't get enough to eat.

Fortunately, friends like you are taking care of families in our community like Frank's every day. Thanks to your gifts to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, he can come to Associated Charities in his hometown of Blackwell for a box of nutritious groceries twice a month. This Food Bank partner agency provides important staples to individuals and families in need like Frank's �" and he's so thankful for the help.

"If it wasn't for this place, I don't think I'd make it," he says. "It would be pretty rough."

You're restoring hope to thousands of central and western Oklahomans this fall. Thank you for your compassion for those in need.


You Help Seniors Through Life's Trials

Paulene

Paulene has spent most of her life caring for others.

She worked hard to raise her seven children, working full-time to provide for all their needs. Now that they're all grown and have children of their own, she continues to dote on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She even took care of her ex-husband when he became ill until the day he died.

But years of caring for others have taken a toll on Paulene's health. She's had to undergo 12 surgeries to remove several tumors, and is now disabled and unable to work.

Now her only income is in the form of Social Security. Although she lives alone and only has to support herself, it's still a huge challenge to pay for things like rent, utilities and groceries on a fixed income. She doesn't receive food stamps, so oftentimes she just doesn't get enough to eat.

"With the utility bills high, and food is high �" living is just high," she says, discouraged.

Thanks to your gifts to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, food is one thing Paulene doesn't have to worry about. She can take home nutritious groceries when she needs them from Faith Community Christian Church, a Food Bank partner agency. She says she doesn't know what she'd do without the food she receives.

"It would be very, very hard," she says. "I don't even want to think about it. It's been a great help!"

Paulene knows it's the generosity of friends like you that helps put food on her table �" and she's so grateful for your compassion.

"Thank you, thank you!" she says, smiling. "Without you, a lot of us would be in trouble."


You Make Life Brighter for Those in Need

Joe

At age 57, Joe has experienced more trials than most.

Five years ago he underwent surgery to receive a pacemaker after a heart defect threatened his life. His poor health and seriously failing eyesight eventually forced him to quit his job in construction. Not only is it frustrating for Joe that he is physically unable to work, but the stress of not having enough money is very difficult to handle.

He receives disability assistance, but it's only a little more than $600 a month �" not nearly enough to pay for rent, utility bills, medical expenses and groceries. He receives $10 in food stamps, but he says it barely lasts him a week.

Because he can't drive due to his legal blindness and he can't afford other transportation, Joe rides his bike everywhere. Unfortunately, this significantly limits the places he can go and things he can do. Joe just needs a little extra help to get the food he needs.

Thanks to friends like you, he's found help at the Lawton Food Bank, a partner agency of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. This food pantry served 38,000 hungry people last year by providing them with nutritious groceries and job assistance training.

Joe is so grateful for the food he receives. He says that without the help of the food pantry, he would only be able to eat once a day, at the most.

"Thank you!" he says with genuine appreciation. "It's a blessing that there are places like this. There would be a whole lot of really hungry people [if it weren't for you]."

Your gifts to the Food Bank are changing lives like Joe's every day.


Seniors Have Hope Because of You

Earl

If anyone knows the value of hard work, it's Earl. Having devoted many years to service through his work as a medic in the United States Air Force and in various hospitals around the country, he has always been committed to the task before him.

For the past 10 years, Earl has been making deliveries for a computer company. But he recently had a stroke at work, forcing him to quit his job and turning his life upside down.

Now that he is no longer able to work, a small disability check each month is his only income. With rent, utilities and groceries to pay for, it's a challenge just to pay the bills. Earl says food is often the first thing to get cut from his budget.

"I only eat about one meal a day," he says sadly.

Earl's health has continued to decline since the stroke. He now suffers from epilepsy and has had two heart attacks. Because he is in such frail condition, he is no longer able to drive and must rely on a neighbor for rides �" making trips to the grocery store even fewer and farther between.

But your generosity provides hope in the form of food to seniors in need like Earl. Thanks to your gifts to the Regional Food Bank, he can take home nutritious groceries from the food pantry at Cross and Crown Mission in Oklahoma City, a Food Bank partner agency.

Earl is so grateful for the food he receives, and says he wants to help others in need when he can. He knows that without the help of friends like you, he wouldn't have enough to eat sometimes.

"I really, really appreciate it," he says through tears. "Without you, I just wouldn't make it."

You're giving seniors in need like Earl a second chance through your gifts to the Food Bank. Thank you for your compassion.


You're a Lifeline for Seniors in Need

Harry and Betty

Harry and Betty have devoted most of their lives to serving others. They pastored churches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, and they've met plenty of people in need. But since retiring 13 years ago, they've unexpectedly found themselves needing help to make ends meet for the first time in their lives.

Through 57 years of marriage, raising two children and pastoring churches in several different states, Harry and Betty were always able to get by on their own and provide for their family. But now that they've retired, they live mostly off of their small Social Security check. Between bills, medicine and groceries, it's a huge challenge to make their small income stretch to the end of the month.

"We take in so little each month," says Betty.

Adding to their stress is Harry's declining health. Since retiring 13 years ago, he's been working part-time as a handyman to make a little extra money. But because of a painful illness that causes bone deterioration, he is no longer able to work. He gets a discount on his medications through the local Veterans Affairs Hospital, but they're still very expensive. With so many other expenses, it's almost impossible to find enough in the budget for groceries.

But thanks to the generosity of friends like you, Harry and Betty know they have a place to go when they need help with food. They can eat a nutritious lunch every day at the Salvation Army in Warr Acres, a partner agency of the Regional Food Bank. They also get to take home leftover food, which is a big help.

Salvation Army Director Traci Lucas says that because so many seniors don't have easy access to nutritious food, the meals they receive through this feeding program are often their only meal for the day.

"A lot of our folks don't eat at all at home," she says.

Your compassion provides seniors like Harry and Betty with the resources they need to live longer, healthier lives �" and they're so grateful.

"We would have to decide whether to eat or buy medicine," says Harry. "It's a lifeline, really."


You're a Lifeline for Seniors in Need

Laverda

After nearly five decades of marriage, Laverda has a hard time remembering what her life was like before she became a wife and mother. She spent most of her adult years married to the love of her life, raising their three boys.

But several years ago, Laverda's husband passed away. Not only has she had to deal with the unspeakable pain of losing her lifelong companion, she's had to learn how to live on her own again after almost 50 years of marriage. Years later, she still misses her husband terribly. In fact, she still wears her wedding rings every day.

Laverda has been retired since 1983, so her only income is Social Security and a very small retirement check. She's in good health right now, but over the years she's survived cancer, a heart attack and a stroke. She still has difficulty walking and has to take eight medications per day. But living on a fixed income makes it nearly impossible to pay for utility bills, medical expenses and nutritious groceries each month.

That's why she's so grateful that she can come to the South Oklahoma Nutrition Program in Ardmore for a filling lunch five days a week. Thanks in part to your gifts, this partner agency of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma serves a healthy meal each weekday and delivers meals to about 180 homebound seniors in the area.

Laverda is so glad to know she has a place to eat that helps stretch her budget �" especially now that the holidays are here. She loves having a place right here in her hometown that provides good food and fellowship during the holiday season and year-round.

"I think it's wonderful that you haven't forgotten us elderly people!" she says with a smile to donors like you. "I'm really grateful for all you do, and I just say, �thank you.'"

You're bringing hope to so many central and western Oklahomans in need this holiday season. Thank you for your compassion!



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