Last month, I visited a Food for Seniors distribution at Pioneer Towers in downtown Sacramento. Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) delivers grocery items to 58 senior centers, housing complexes and other facilities where seniors live with limited mobility or inadequate food access.
I knew seniors living in food deserts faced barriers such as transportation, mobility and general access to healthy food. I remembered seniors face some of the highest rates of malnutrition due to reliance on shelf-stable food. I sadly was aware that over 35,000 Sacramento County seniors struggle with food insecurity. But nothing prepared me for the joy I experienced in a tiny rec room on the first floor of a senior high rise on a Thursday morning.
One staff member and two cheery volunteers greeted a long line of seniors staking their place in the hallway, excited for they food delivery. The team of young women worked swiftly and efficiently to stack boxes and prepare for the distribution. Each box contained fruit juice, pasta, vegetables, fruit, peanut butter, cereal, powdered milk and a variety of other staples. The federal government’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides guidelines for Food for Seniors, including which types of healthy food items to include. All food items are purchased (not donated) and boxed at SFBFS’ facility the week prior to distribution.
Staff member Sally Fifield greeted each senior and invited them to sit while they signed for their box. She then loaded each senior’s cart, wheelchair or walker with a huge box (about 30 pounds!) of food and handed them recipe cards. Volunteers from UC Davis’ nutrition program shared samples of Creole Green Beans and Somali pasta, dishes that could be made with ingredients each senior received.
The entire process flowed smoothly and seniors offered hugs and prayers as thanks for their food.
I am thankful for the 14 programs and services offered by SFBFS and am grateful for the staff and volunteers who make it possible every day. If you’re interested in taking a tour of either campus or visiting a distribution in the community to see the impact donors are making for 157,000 adults, seniors and children each month, please contact us at (916) 456-1980.
Kelly Siefkin, VP of Communications & Marketing
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services