Client story: “I need fresh food. I don’t qualify for food stamps.”

February 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

Mary Lou Ledesma

Mary Lou Ledesma

Mary Lou Ledesma, 82, says she learns something new every week in CAFB’s “Eat Smart, Live Strong” CHOICES nutrition class for seniors, offered at the South Austin Neighborhood Center.

The class encourages seniors to eat fresh fruits and veggies and to engage in more physical activity.

“The teachers are great. They show us exercises that help our body,” said Mary Lou. “There are a bunch of us who are diabetic.  They teach things that even our doctors don’t talk to us about, like which foods we can eat.”

HOPE distribution

HOPE distribution

Most of the class participants receive healthy food through the Healthy Options for the Elderly (HOPE) food distribution program, also sponsored by the Food Bank.

This distribution is offered once a month. Low-income seniors, like Mary Lou, receive bags of fresh and canned foods, and during “Eat Smart, Live Strong classes” CAFB nutritionists offer healthy recipes, incorporating these foods.

Mary Lou was the original owner of Capitol Cleaners and Tailors. Her son now runs the business. Her only source of income is her monthly Social Security check. Groceries from the HOPE program help her manage her fixed income.

“I live by myself, and my utility bill can be outrageous. My Social Security check is not enough, so having food is a concern. When I receive food from HOPE, it allows me to spend my money on other necessities.”

Mary Rodriguez and Margaret Hermes

Mary Rodriguez and Margaret Hermes

Mary Rodriguez, who is legally blind, also receives groceries through the HOPE program.

“They give you carrots, potatoes, bananas — stuff that’s good for you and that you can save,” she said. “I need fresh food. I don’t qualify for food stamps, even though I only get $900 a month to pay for everything.”

For more information about our programs, click here.

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