67 year-old Arlene takes walks around her neighborhood in the mornings. When the pandemic began, she started to notice more cars in the driveways as families were affected by COVID-19. Her neighbors had lost their jobs just like she and her husband.
Arlene and her husband are retired, but they both worked part time to help stretch their budget. The pandemic caused Arlene to lose her job. And when the schools closed, her husband couldn’t work as a substitute teacher anymore. The extra income they relied on was gone.
Without their part-time jobs, the couple worried about health expenses. Arlene has had cancer twice and she can’t forgo medical care. But that wasn’t their only worry. The pandemic brought another challenge. As high-risk individuals, they couldn’t jeopardize their health by going into their doctor’s office. That meant having to pay for the expensive virtual doctor appointments.
They would have to find a way to keep up with their appointments and fill their prescriptions. Arlene turned to the Food Bank’s pantry partner, Love of Christ Church Temple, for help.
Going to the pantry wasn’t what she expected. She felt safe during the drive-through distribution and was surprised by what she had received. Volunteers loaded up her car with a mix of produce, protein and staples.
“The food that we’re getting from the Food Bank is no different than going in there and picking up your groceries at the grocery store. You get milk products, you get all kinds of dairy, you get all kinds of bread, you’re getting meat, you’re getting your fruits and vegetables,” Arlene said.
With what Arlene saves by going to the pantry, she and her husband have been able to stretch their budget to get the medical care they need and to help pay for utility bills and other expenses.
“It was costly to do Teladoc medicine. I have to utilize it because I’m high risk, so it definitely allowed us to utilize that and not miss our visits and any of our medication and things like that,” Arlene said.
So many things have changed for the couple, but thanks to the Food Bank, Arlene is still able to cook and bake regularly. She makes a variety of dishes and even makes her own jam from the strawberries she receives. But the food she gets goes even further. She saves nuts, peanut butter and oatmeal to bake cookies to share with her family and others.
Though the pandemic has been difficult for the Arlene and her husband, she’s grateful for everyone who has helped them—from the volunteers to the donors. Thanks to the Food Bank, she’s able to put food on the table and not have to deplete her retirement savings to meet her family’s basic needs.
“Thank you. I don’t think that they realize, truly realize, impact-wise what a difference they’re making…with seniors, it has made a tremendous amount a difference to us financially,” Arlene said. “To know that the donors are aware, they should be really aware, because they’re making a difference, they’re making this pandemic livable.”