Or the last time you checked on your elderly friend that lives alone?
The pandemic reminded everyone that the senior community is one of our most vulnerable, but thanks to our volunteers, donors and supporters, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has always assisted this population. It is estimated that nearly 20% of the food distributed by the Food Bank and our partner agencies reach older adults, and our Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is one of the largest in the country.
In 2020 alone, the LA Regional Food Bank’s CSFP distributed over 311,000 Senior Nutrition food kits, serving almost 28,000 seniors every month at 146 sites throughout the County.
Community Advocate Reba Stevens didn’t realize the need in the senior community before the pandemic. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit, and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank began delivering Emergency Food Kits to seniors’ homes that she and her friends at the Los Angeles Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church, a Partner Agency, saw the need in that community.
But the senior community already faced challenges with food insecurity even before the pandemic. Living on a fixed income, many seniors are forced to make sacrifices in an effort to make ends meet, whether that means skipping a doctor’s appointment or meals.
The pandemic just made life harder for seniors; increasing isolation to prevent contagion, and with a high demand for food, increasing the cost of their food.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge the current climate that we’re in,” she said. “We’re providing meals to them by delivery, and this allows an opportunity for people like myself to create a connection.”
“The consistency that goes on here at Ephesus Church with the senior boxes that we deliver to the community, along with other goods, allows the seniors in our community to experience, I want to say ‘love,’ and not feeling forgotten,” she added.
Thanks to donations to the Food Bank, Stevens, and the Ephesus Community are able to deliver food boxes that will help seniors stretch their dollars and make ends meet while feeling that someone cares about them.
“There’s something about giving, and the spirit of caring for others that I was able to tap in and motivates me to want to do more,” Stevens said. “I would encourage you to be involved, to care, to care enough for the neighbor, because someday, someone might be caring for you.”
Without assistance from the Food Bank or the Ephesus Church community, there is a high chance that many seniors in the South Central Los Angeles area would go hungry.
Financial strains aside, many seniors do not count on proper transportation to make the trip down to Ephesus, let alone to haul the 35-pound emergency food kit the Food Bank provides, as well as additional boxes or bags of food and other items provided to the Church.
That’s where Dena Elridge comes in.
Elridge works with the Salvation Army as a Residence Services Coordinator, serving a senior home within the Ephesus community. Elridge communicates with seniors and their food needs, then drives down to Ephesus and collects the food items her clients need and delivers them to their homes.
Elridge hears firsthand the struggles that seniors in her community are facing when it comes to food security, especially when the last days of weeks of the month begin to loom. With the cost of rent, bills, and food increasing, many seniors can’t afford to make it to the end of the month on a fixed income. Food starts to run low, and so do their pockets. Thanks to donations provided to the Food Bank, Elridge is able to provide food assistance for her clients when they need it most.
“Every bit helps, anything you’re donating helps and is utilized,” Elridge said. “If you took it away, or stopped giving, then a lot of these families would go hungry.”
It’s thanks to generous donations to the Food Bank that Reba Stevens, Dena Elridge and the Ephesus Church community are able to help the most vulnerable in a time of need. If you are in a position to do so, please donate.