Similar to patches that come together to form a quilt, many factors can coincide in a senior’s life that can lead to hunger. From increasing medication costs to high electricity bills in the summer, seniors in Louisiana can battle multiple issues to live a healthy and comfortable life.
Per a recent study released by Feeding America, Louisiana has recently placed highest in the number of food insecure senior citizens. Oscarlene Woods is one of those many seniors in Louisiana facing food insecurity. Currently, Oscarlene is a recipient of boxes filled with breakfast foods, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, meat and more through our Adopt-A-Senior program.
However, Oscarlene knew about our Adopt-A-Senior program long before qualifying to become a recipient. For years she drove her neighbors at Our Lady of the Lake Senior Housing to pick up their supplemental food boxes.
Eventually, she was able to become a part of the program to ease her own financial strains.
“Sometimes you just don’t have enough money to buy groceries,” said Oscarlene. “When you’re on a fixed income, no matter how much or how little, it always means a lot when you get something that can help you have a balanced meal.”
Oscarlene didn’t expect to be in this situation at her age. She worked in the New Orleans school system for over 25 years; but, she was suddenly dismissed after Katrina hit the Orleans Parish schools. After losing her retirement despite her years of service, she found herself looking for a low-cost place to live while affording daily necessities like food. Today, Oscarlene has one point of advice, “I tell young people to put money away for retirement. Because if you don’t, you’ll end up like a lot of people here who have nobody and no money.”
Nevertheless, when asked what she thought of Louisiana having the largest number of food insecure seniors, Oscarlene stated she is not surprised by the statistic. “I know a lot of people here don’t have a lot, and you can’t always help everybody but the one’s we can, we do,” Oscarlene further explained.
Oscarlene still drives her neighbors to collect boxes on the first Friday of every month but her generosity doesn’t stop there. She and her neighbors combine their resources to create weekly meals to share.
The seniors in Oscarlene’s community not only cook meals together but they go to the store together, go to church together and spend as much time together as they can. “We know we can depend on each other,” said Oscarlene.
Like a quilt, fighting senior hunger takes multiple pieces to keep it together. Not only do the seniors in Oscarlene’s community help fight hunger but so do those who donate food and funds to the food bank. Oscarlene wants those who donate to the food bank to know, “they’re helping people they don’t even know. We all appreciate it and it means so much to us.”