Hunger Is Not a Disease

The Big 3: We get less, pay more, and do without.


 (The Minium SNAP Allotment)
Prices from Kingston Walmart

– 1 dozen eggs – $1.98
– 1/2 gallon milk – $1.94
– 1 lb. pinto beans – $1.28
– 1 lb. rice – $ .84
– 1 lb. onions – $ .99
– 1 can diced tomatoes – $ .79
– 1 lb ground turkey – $2.98
– 1 can corn – $ .77
– 1 lb. potatoes – $2.97
– 1 can tuna – $ .78
Total = $15.32
I first met Pat last fall when she came to the Reservoir Food Pantry the first time.  She’s an older woman, a widow.  Her husband died just over a year ago She’s still making her way toward her new life.

“I never dreamed it would be so hard…being alone like this.  I didn’t tell my children that I came here.  I don’t want them to know the situation.”

While she spoke, she wiped an occasional tear.  She moved through the pantry line composed of a group of women, all about her own age.  They chose corn, apples, squash, late season greens, onions, potatoes.  As the line snaked forward, she turned her attention to the canned goods:  beans, soup, fruits, veggies.

Pat hasn’t visited the SNAP (food stamp) office in Kingston yet.  For one thing, it’s a good half hour down Route 28.  For another, she’s afraid:

the forms,

the humiliation of being unable to survive on her own,

the long wait in a building that she may not even be able to find.  And, finally, she’s afraid of the whole process which she finds threatening.

Her financial situation isn’t so far from all the other women in the pantry line.  Grocery shopping for the elderly is difficult under the best circumstances.    Getting to the grocery store can be challenging for order people – getting around in the parking lot and going up and down the grocery store aisles is no fun anymore.  Then, when they can’t find what they need at a price they can afford, they have to maneuver the muddy  parking lot and the scary entrance ramp at our pantry.

We haven’t even discussed the packages yet.  They’ve got to be gotten home and in the house wherever and whatever that is.

Finally, finding affordable high quality food becomes more difficult as the days go by.  As difficult as it is for Pat, she’s one of the lucky ones.  Her automobile works.

The combination of  a nonworking automobile, bad weather,  insufficient $$$ is  the makings of a disaster for a senior.

I keep telling everyone who will listen that seniors should get their SNAP card, a list of nearby pantries, and their Medicare card at the same time.  So far, nobody has heard.

“Of course not.” I tell myself.  “Why should they?  We’ve all got gray hair.”

Seniors struggle with the Big 3:



medical expenses.

Forget the frills like Kleenex and clothes.  As seniors, we get less, pay more, and go without.  We decide whether to heat or eat.

Healthcare costs can be devastating, even to a senior on medicare.  Once a person comes down with cancer or other major disease, the pocketbook empties pretty fast.

There is a real pressure to feed the rising tide of hungry at every pantry.  We receive questionnaires periodically from different agencies wanting to know how often we run out of food.  How does “weekly” sound?

The Big 3 for pantries include:

high unemployment,

widespread hunger

deep cuts in social spending programs.

Every pantry is different.  Some feed anyone who needs food.

Others are arbitrary and biased when it comes to deciding who can or  cannot receive food.

Yet others require paper work which cuts eliminates the homeless entirely.

There are too many agencies with too many people standing in line for too little food.  No Food Bank office can oversee or supervise the selection process.

At Reservoir Food Pantry, we serve a 3-day-supply of food with a large dash of dignity to all who come.

The lines and crowds outside pantries can easily convince any onlookers that our nation has a food problem.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco