Montgomery Area Food Bank sends a special thank you to some of our recent Fund and Food Drive Donors! These folks are truly providing Hope for the Hungry this season. Together, more than 31,000 meals will be provided to families in need across Alabama!
AARP – Shredder Event
St. James Middle School
Deer Creek Home Owner’s Association
AUM-Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Zeta
Boy Scouts of America local troops
And the Montgomery Area Free Thought Assoc.
Too often across Alabama, our senior citizens are living in poverty and facing hunger. The Howard family is but one example of the type of chronic poverty many seniors deal with on a daily basis. Mr. Howard, a Korean War Veteran, was a cancer patient. His wife cared for him and their son, who undergoes dialysis treatment and is awaiting a second kidney transplant. Taking care of these two special men keeps Mrs. Howard pretty busy and what little income they have is dedicated towards medical bills, utilities, and rent.
Unfortunately, we hear stories like this on a regular basis. In the Montgomery Area Food Bank’s (MAFB) 35-county service area, more than 15% of seniors, or 66,000 individuals, are impoverished and face tough choices on a daily basis. Alabama’s seniors are, in general, far more likely to live in poverty versus other areas of the nation. Nationally, approximately 9% of seniors live in poverty. What an incredible difference!
MAFB distributes food and other grocery products to those in need through a variety of programs that work together to ensure we reach individuals living across the state in a fair manner. Some programs, including on-site feeding programs and Meals on Wheels programs, are operated out of Partner Agencies who rely on MAFB for the food that they serve. Other programs are managed by MAFB. For example, many seniors are served through our Mobile Pantry Family Assistance Program, when we deliver a truckload or two of nutritious foods directly to a community in need. Often times, you will see multiple families or multiple senior households carpool to attend a distribution - thus saving money on gas.
But for others like Mrs. Howard, making the trip to a community distribution site can be difficult or even impossible.
The Senior Supplement program augments these feeding programs by reaching those seniors that are, due to health concerns or financial restrictions, unable to leave their homes and visit their local food pantry or attend a Mobile Pantry to receive food support. Senior Supplement boxes are delivered to seniors in their homes by dedicated volunteers who are committed to deliver smiles, company, and companionship in addition to these boxes of hope.
Every box weighs roughly 30 pounds and is stuffed with nutritious foods that have been carefully selected for the special needs of seniors. During November and December, our seniors also receive a holiday meal pack, complete with turkey or ham and other holiday fixins.
Included in each box is a copy of our Senior Supplement Newsletter, which provides healthy recipes, senior health tips, brain-building games and trivia, and more! By serving seniors healthy food and good company, the Senior Supplement Program has a direct impact on longevity and quality of life.
The Senior Supplement Program provides a critical service to seniors living in poverty across Alabama. It enables seniors to live independently, free from hunger and the negative health impact of poor or under-nutrition, better able to afford medications, knowing that their wellbeing matters to the community.
It is our honor to serve families like the Howards; good, honest folks who struggle day to day with poverty. They write us simple letters from time to time, thanking the volunteers who pack their boxes, the donors who provide, and MAFB for organizing. Their letters are simple, but moving. One of our favorites read, “I look forward to my box of food each month the same way I looked forward to Santa Clause as a child.”
Would you like to help serve seniors in need? With a recent grant from the Hussman Foundation, donations from new donors given to benefit the Senior Supplement Program will be matched dollar-for-dollar. This grant is available until November 2014, and will match up to $10,000.
Please consider taking advantage of this opportunity to help us as we strive to reach out to more seniors in need by donating today.
We are always humbled to receive donations that come with sweet little notes, complimenting us on a job well done or an impactful interview done by a staff member. But then, every so often, we get a donation that says simply “I’m sorry I can’t do more.” Enclosed in this envelope will be whatever donation that person can give – sometimes a few dollars, sometimes less.
Recently, a donor we’ll call Ms. Rose sent in a beat up dollar and wrote: “I am 84 and have a very small income. Wish I could do more; you have helped me much! God bless.”
I don’t think I need to tell you that Ms. Rose really knocked our socks off. This woman, a senior living on fixed income who has relied on the services we provide to eat, spared what she could to help her neighbors in need. It may not look like much, but it’s everything to the person who will benefit from her generosity.
Letters such as this aren’t exactly common, but you’d be surprised at how many times we open a donation envelope and see a little “I’m sorry I can’t do more” scratched on the margins. These sentiments get us every time. They’re proof that sometimes the biggest blessings don’t come in 6-figure packages, but in the hearts of those who share our passion for this mission.
Thanksgiving is a time to pause and be thankful for all that we have in our lives - this is something we’ve all been taught since kindergarten when we made cut-outs of our hands into colorful turkeys and donned construction-paper pilgrim hats.
But is that enough? Shouldn’t Thanksgiving also be a time to take a look around and say “what can I do to make a difference?” Or, simply put, shouldn’t we ask ourselves how we can be more like Ms. Rose?