Honoring Our Elders with a Food Pantry Day

Sep 15, 2021

It’s been just over one month since we opened a Food Choice Pantry day just for Seniors! Due to the pandemic, we’ve only been able to welcome a few neighbors into the food choice pantry at a time. This limit has meant people sometimes have to wait. Over the summer, we couldn’t bear to see our elders out in the sweltering sun. 

“I would look at these seniors and think, ‘that could be my mom, my father, or a relative,’ and I wouldn’t want them out there in the heat,” explained Maria Nieves, our Emergency Services coordinator. She quickly began gathering names from senior neighbors who would be interested in coming to a Seniors-only day early in the morning and by appointment. Soon, she had dozens of names on the list. 

We’ve been welcoming about 33 Seniors every week since we started,” Maria says. When they come, she makes sure to chat with them, hear how they’re doing. “I make sure to call everyone by their first name and hear how they’re doing. They really love that. You know a lot of seniors are appreciative of someone to talk to and connect with.” 

Many of the elders who come to the day live with family and work busily helping to take care of the family. Most of them play a caregiving role for their household — cooking, cleaning, watching children, and doling out advice. Coming to the food choice pantry and getting to select fresh food for their families brings smiles and relief for many. 

“The vegetables and fruits make them happiest,” Maria says, noting that many of those fruits and vegetables come from The Simple Way’s own garden. She also knows that beyond the food available, the most important part of the experience is choice. “We’re the only food pantry in our zip code who let you come in and choose your own groceries,” Maria explains, “most places you come in and they hand you a box of food. Even though we’re smaller than some of the other places nearby, we offer an amazing variety. It gives the residents a lot of choices.” 

The fresh food cares for neighborhood health, as does the social connection that the Seniors’ day offers. “When the Seniors come to our office, they chat with each other. I always work to make them laugh,” Maria says. “It’s good for their health.” 

Maria, and the rest of our staff, don’t take our neighbors’ good health for granted. Covid-19 has been tough on the community. Just recently, Maria learned that one of her Seniors passed away due to Covid-19. The challenges have only made Maria more determined to make sure Seniors smile and laugh when they come. 

“Sometimes they tell me I don’t act my age,” she says, “but I just say good, I’m not supposed to. We only have one life and we have to live it. We don’t know how much time we have left, so we may as well joke and have fun with each other while we can.” 

The Seniors’ day at our Food Choice Pantry is just one way we’re building community connection and fighting food insecurity. Support from people like you has kept us going strong and working hard to love our neighbors in ways big and small. Thank you!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Simple Way Scholars Alumnus – Hector Davila Jr.

I’m a people-oriented person. I’ve always loved being a part of a community and building long-lasting relationships. I love hearing stories from other people and what they’ve been through. My philosophy in life is that everyone has a story to share, and each story is...

Neighbor Spotlight: Loving Your Block by Picking Up Trash

Loving your neighborhood can feel overwhelming or abstract. “Where do I start?” is a question many people ask when they come to us.  Sometimes, the easiest way to start loving your neighborhood is by looking at what’s right in front of you. It's beginning to look...

Black Lives Matter & Proximity in Protests

All is not well in Philadelphia right now. Our neighborhood has been facing huge challenges in the throes of COVID-19. The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (among many others), have caused outrage and indignation to boil over. We are...

Update on Our Covid-19 Response

Thank you for your wave of generosity towards us! Your prayers, support, and gifts have cheered us in these trying times. As you know, we have been working harder than ever to love Kensington during the pandemic. We are trying to balance the sacrificial love this...

Covid-19: We Exist for Times like These

Hello dear friends, In this unprecedented time, I want to tell you why I feel more resolved and certain than ever. My teammate, Jen Casselberry, said it best the other day. "As I've been worrying about how we're going to make it, thinking about how we're going to...

Open House Takeaways: Dave’s Reflections

Pictured above: Simple Way Staff with the most recent Open House attendees. On the registration form there was a question – “why do want to take part in the open house”. My answer was “I don’t know, I just feel like I need to.” The truth is I had a lot of questions...

Maria’s Story

The first time I went in for my cancer treatment, everyone I saw at the clinic was so sad. I couldn’t help myself. I started to crack homeless jokes. I got a few gasps of surprise; people started asking me how I could be joking and telling homeless jokes in the middle...

Today We Remember

Ten years ago on June 20, 2007, a seven-alarm fire broke out on the 3200 block of H Street. Its source was one of Philadelphia’s 700 abandoned factories. A hundred families were affected. Dozens of homes were evacuated, and many houses burned to the ground, including...

Anniversary: Miracle on Potter Street

They all heard the thud. Moans followed. Chrissy Kind, a long-time supporter of The Simple Way, had gone upstairs after “the worst headache of her life” struck. The plaintive sound was unusual; Chrissy was known as an energetic pillar of The Simple Way’s support team....

Laying the Foundation

Pictured above: An excavator lies still at the site of Esperanza Health Center’s forthcoming parking structure. Work is well underway at the bank building nearby, the building that Esperanza Health Center will move into in the spring. They’ve now turned to digging...