A Good Neighbor Ensures No One in His Apartment Building Goes Hungry
From his East Bloomington apartment, Juan can walk or ride the bus that stops just outside his building to two different grocery stores and a slew of retail outlets. But he rarely goes shopping unless he has a coupon or knows of a sale. At 62 and relying on disability insurance to live after knee replacement surgery that made it difficult for him to work, the cost of food is simply too high.
“I’m diabetic and I like to eat healthy, but the prices in the grocery stores are scandalous,” he said. “Without the box, it would be very hard for me.”
The box Juan receives comes from Second Harvest Heartland through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), a federally funded food resource for older Americans. On the first Wednesday of each month, boxes filled with nutritious food are delivered to Juan’s 15-floor apartment building. The box includes canned fruits, vegetables and juices, American cheese, canned meat, peanut butter or dried beans, cereal, rice and pasta. Juan is not only a recipient of the monthly food box, he helps get the much-needed food to his neighbors as well. Through his time volunteering for delivery, Juan has learned that nearly 100 of his neighbors in the building participate in the program.
“I started volunteering in my building after my friend, Gary, who was doing the program, had a stroke,” he said. “So now I help people with paperwork and distribute the tokens they need to get their box.”
Juan promotes the program to his neighbors every chance he gets, and, with the help of Russian and Vietnamese translators from Second Harvest Heartland, walks them through the process.
“People are very grateful for the help,” Juan said. “I thank God for the program.”
Juan said what he likes most about the box is the variety. “The box includes a little bit of everything, but I especially like the grape juice and cereal,” he said.
When Juan isn’t helping to distribute food boxes, he keeps busy doing odd jobs around his building.
“I’m a bit of a handyman,” he said. “I install fans and things like that. I do what I can. It makes me feel good.”
May is National Older Americans Month, and we’re sharing this story to help raise awareness of the many older Americans that sometimes need a little food help to get by.
If you think you may be eligible for CSFP or know someone who may require assistance, please call 651.484.8241 or toll free at 800.365.0270 for more information.