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!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Congrats to a Grad!

Did you know that The Simple Way offers an opportunity for young people connected to our community to attend and excel in college? Appropriately called Simple Way Scholars, in partnership with Eastern University, we equip students for their undergraduate journey by...

A Prayer for this Significant Week

As you may know, this week holds special significance for three major world religions: It’s Holy Week, in which the Christian tradition commemorates Jesus’ death and celebrates his resurrection three days later.  Good Friday also marks the start of the Jewish festival...

Places of Beauty, Places of Terror

As we mentioned on our social media channels this last week, we hold the tension of the both/and on a regular basis. Is it ever the same for you? Our neighborhood is a place of beauty, that much is true, but it can also be a place of terror. In an essay by Dr. Bill...

More to the Story

The scene is often the same: Fast-food joints dot every corner. Corner stores boast an abundance of “just add water” meals, junk food, alcoholic beverages and soda pop. With nary a piece of fruit or vegetable in sight, poor, urban areas like our own often lack viable...

Why Jobs Without Livable Wages Still Aren’t Enough

Poverty is a vicious cycle. In our neighborhood, 9.3% of Kensington residents are unemployed - this in comparison to Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, with overall unemployment rates of 7.5% and 4.5% respectively. It’s easy to imagine how those who are experiencing...

What does it mean to be hungry?

Many of us don’t know what it means to be hungry. We don’t have to think twice about stocking our pantries, ordering online grocery delivery, or even indulging in the occasional take-out meal once or twice a week. We plan out our dinners, one or two weeks ahead of...

Our neighborhood is not a monolith

As you may have seen on social media last week, in 2021, 7,741 adults, 1,604 seniors, and 5,171 children were served through our food distribution efforts. In total, we shared 279,390 pounds of food with our neighbors. The reality is that our neighborhood is not...

When Hospitality & Space Intertwine

As you may have read in our newsletter earlier this week, as followers of Jesus, we feel called to practice hospitality. At The Simple Way, we’ve gone as far as to include Radical Hospitality as one of our core values. Hospitality is defined as taking care of your...

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...