Robert Taylor’s wife was diagnosed with liver cancer last year and his family fell into a financial hardship. This 75-year-old senior attended the last Senior Grocery distribution before COVID-19. His family found a sense of relief after receiving assistance from the Food Bank, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying at home is the best thing to do to reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus. Because of our assistance, Taylor’s trips to the grocery store have decreased significantly.

“Our out of pocket expenses were really high. We were told about the Food Bank and it has helped us for about four months now,” said Taylor.

Taylor is one of the few seniors who have transportation to grocery stores. In response to COVID-19, grocery stores have reserved special hours of operation for seniors. However, some seniors may not have transportation to grocery stores or during those reserved hours. Grocery stores have become one of the busiest locations after Louisiana issued its Stay at Home order. There are many unavoidable surfaces to come in contact with while grocery shopping such as shopping carts and plastic packaging. All of these things combined are putting more stress on seniors and as a result, we are seeing an increase in Senior Grocery participants.

As you may know, seniors are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. However, what you may not know is that Louisiana has the highest food insecurity rate in the country among adults aged 60 and older. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even more seniors are experiencing an increase in the need for food. One of the first Senior Grocery distributions since Louisiana issued the Stay at Home Order was held on May 1, 2020. Due to COVID-19, we saw a 67 percent increase in participants, serving 200 seniors, many whom expressed their gratitude.

“This monthly program for the seniors is a tremendous blessing and is greatly needed,” 76-year-old Marie Young said.

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s Senior Grocery distribution was designed to provide basic, shelf-stable food once a month to seniors before COVID-19. Our goal was to reduce grocery expenses to allow seniors to stretch their limited budget to cover expenses such as medications, utilities and other necessities. Once COVID-19 became an issue in our community, our Senior Grocery distribution was the perfect fit for serving seniors in our area during this time. To avoid contact, the program is operated as a drive through where volunteers place boxes of non-perishable items in the trunk of a senior’s vehicle.

If you would like to donate to help support programs such as Senior Grocery please contact the Food Bank at 225-359-9940 or email info@brfoodbank.org.