For the past eight years, Rachel has been attending the Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center Monday through Friday. In her purse, she carries multiple coloring books she shares with others at the senior center. She loves coloring.
Though coloring may seem like a simple task, Rachel was scared she wouldn’t be able to do it again when she began having pain in her hand. After two years of multiple doctor visits and a surgery, she was able to color once again.
The pain is a result of an assault by her ex-husband. The incident left her disabled after her cervical discs were damaged and affected other parts of her body.
Since then, Rachel can’t lift anything heavy, including her own grandkids. Now, she relies on her Social Security benefits to make it through the month. But it has been challenging trying to cover her surgical medical bills.
“I have to divide [the money] up on who gets what and I write the [doctors] a note and tell them what I’m going through and to be patient with me. They will get paid,” Rachel said.
Between trying to pay her utility bills, car payment, property taxes and her medical bills, she has been faced with the tough choice of paying bills or buying groceries.
“I have to be careful with what I choose to make and what I’m doing to make it stretch and cover all the bases to get my nutrition. It’s hard,” Rachel said.
However, once a month she feels like a kid in a candy store, she said, when the Food Bank truck arrives at the senior center with Commodity Supplemental Food Program boxes filled with up to 30 pounds of groceries.
“It cuts down on the grocery bill and it’s kind of like a special treat, something that sometimes you can’t afford to get that month, but it comes in your box,” Rachel said.
The contents of the box vary each month, but it includes cereals, juices, cheese, proteins, peanut butter or dry beans, milk, grains, and canned fruits and vegetables. The fruits are her favorite.
“I use milk for my cereal and my coffee. The fruits, I love canned fruits and we usually get pineapple and peaches. I love the big ol’ halves,” Rachel said.
With the help from the Food Bank and the hot meal she receives at the senior center each day, Rachel is able to get the nourishing meals she needs to spend time with her growing grandkids on the weekends.
“I make it by being here and getting food. That’s a big help…You have no idea how you affect my life, our lives, by you being generous and I just want to thank you for it,” Rachel said.