Many hungry seniors in Idaho are left with an impossible choice: purchase the healthy food they need to stay healthy or use that money to buy the medicine needed to manage pain and health issues.
It’s a situation Millie G., a recipient of The Idaho Foodbank, has experienced. It’s also one she sees repeat every day in her apartment complex for seniors. According to Feeding America, 66 percent of the seniors who are served by their food banks have had to choose between food and medicine.
“The healthy food is something I wouldn’t have ever purchased because of my income,” Millie says. “I get a little bit of food stamps, but not much. I wouldn’t be able to afford the fruits and vegetables I get. I would have to go without my medicine. I would have to find a cheaper place to live, but there aren’t any.”
The Foodbank makes regular visits to Millie’s low-budget housing complex. Even living across the street from a grocery store, the strapped incomes and tight budgets make Millie and her neighbors appreciate the ready access to healthy food.
“When they bring food from the harvest or other fruits and vegetables, I think it’s fantastic,” she says. “A lot of people here really enjoy it. Some people here don’t have food stamps and they go without a lot of things. It’s always a treat to get what the Foodbank brings.”
Millie has lived in Idaho for 70 years. In that time, she’s seen times of plenty and times of need. She recalls one exchange with a family member.
“He had lost his job and his wife and three little kids were struggling,” Millie says. “I told him to go check on the Foodbank. He told me he didn’t need it. I told him you cannot hold your pride higher than you can your children. He went to the Foodbank and they came out of it ok. They’ve been ok for quite a while, now.”
Food has brought a joy to her life, Millie says. That’s why she spreads the word about the access to emergency food at the Foodbank. Like playing her electric organ and crocheting, eating healthy has become a hobby. It’s her health which makes her appreciate the value of the food she receives from food pantries.
“Oh gosh,” she says. “Just sitting here cooking up a pot of beans and smelling the aroma. Just enjoying the food. It’s worth so much.”