May is Older Americans Month, a good time to reflect on the fact that 20% of Texas seniors face food insecurity.
Many of these seniors have special needs, such as living on a fixed income or maintaining a strict medical diet. Our food banks provide access to nutritious food for 632,000 seniors each year where they live, volunteer and work.
Tina Alaniz of Wichita Falls is one such client. Alaniz enjoys spending time with her family and cooking for her grandchildren. Food bank distributions are one reason she can continue to be independent and a good neighbor.
“I’ve got friends who don’t have any money, who don’t have any food,” she says. “They will come and borrow from me when I come home. Like today for instance - they couldn’t get out here.”
Alaniz, who is diabetic, is grateful that the food bank provides healthy options for her restricted diet. “I’d rather go without food, if the food bank wasn’t here,” she admits, rather than rely on her daughter for support.
Though Alaniz is elderly herself, she often drives other seniors to food distributions. She says it feels good to help others.
That feeling is something Judy Corrigan, a volunteer and substitute teacher at Creedmoor Elementary, knows all about.
Standing in line at a recent food pantry distribution, a few young mothers recognized “Ms. Judy” and brought her a chair to make her more comfortable.
Corrigan began coming to this rural pantry after her husband suffered a heart attack and bills started piled up. Just like the school where she works, to her the pantry feels like a community space as much as a place to receive support.
In east Austin, an elderly man named Don walks slowly towards a distribution line to wait his turn. An 84-year-old Air Force veteran, Don optimistically sees the food pantry as a chance to get food and fresh air.
“It’s kind of entertaining for me,” he jokes. “Because I don’t go shopping much or anything.”
Don hopes that an upcoming knee surgery will allow him to get back in the swing of life.
“I used to guide hunters in the Valley and I’d like to do that again. I like to do carpenter work and I like to do gardening. And sales work is what I did and it was easy for me to do,” he says with a smile of pride.
“You’re benefitting society in every way and you’re there just to have fun.”
This blog post is a compilation of interviews collected by AmeriCorps VISTA members of the Feeding Texas Client Empowerment Corps. Our storybanking initiative was started in 2014 to bring the voices of hungry Texans to the public’s attention. To date the storybank contains over 1,000 interviews.