Food barriers causing seniors in the Texas Panhandle to go hungry

You can make a difference for the elderly population at the Together We Can Food and Fund drive
How your donations to the Together We Can Food and Fund drive will make a difference in our community
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 7:39 AM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - It’s day two of the Together We Can Food and Fund Drive for the High Plains Food Bank.

The HPFB is facing increased challenges every day in the senior citizen community, especially in rural areas as hunger among senior citizens has grown.

One of the biggest challenges the food bank faces is serving senior citizens, and you can help by contributing during the drive at United Market Street on Georgia.

Currently, Hedley is experiencing a food dessert, which has been affecting senior citizens at the Hedley Senior Citizens Center, which feeds around 40 to 50 people daily.

“It’s rough, we have to travel 14 miles one way either direction just to go to the grocery store... It’s a little rough being out here in the desserts, but it’s not like we can walk down to the corner, so we have to do a lot of planning,” said Sandy Wilkinson, manager of Hedley Senior Citizens Center.

Many elders are unable to travel, cannot afford to travel, don’t drive or don’t have a vehicle. Because of these factors, seniors struggle the most getting food items.

“Just the financial end of getting there and getting back really impacts what you can and can’t do.” said Lynn, a senior at the center. “There’s that little fear factor of being in a store and also when we were shut in from the pandemic, made it really difficult.”

Not only are they serving seniors, community members are coming to Hedley Senior Citizens for help as the food dessert and supply chain shortage is affecting the whole town.

“With the High Plains Food Bank bringing us their surplus, I have not only the elderly from my community, but the younger generation coming in and asking for food to stretch their food dollars. People are starting to get to go back to work now, but they’re still struggling in that aspect...they’ve got a whole year to catch up on other bills and things,” said Wilkinson.

When it comes to the most vulnerable population, sometimes they are faced with the decision to choose medicine over food or vice versa.

“With increased costs of not only medical, what we’ve seen over the past year in a half with that, but also rising costs of what it takes just to live and survive, utility bills. Choosing between utility bills and food or prescriptions and medical care and food, that is a hard choice every single day that our seniors make, and it’s increasing in our area,” said Zack Wilson, executive director of High Plains Food Bank.

The Food Bank has a senior food box program that is available to seniors age 60 and over that meet income qualifications.

This is a food box the food bank distributes every single month. The program currently serves over 2,000 seniors throughout the Texas Panhandle.

You can find more information about the program and how to get involved on the food banks website.

“Warehouses are just out of things that we use almost on a daily basis.,” said Wilkinson. “With the pandemic...we’re short and sometimes it’s been a little difficult to meet our supplies and demands.”

Hedley Senior Citizens is most in need of protein, boxed dinner like microwavable mac and cheese and canned fruit.

They ask you donate canned items with a pop off top as it could be a struggle for the elderly population to open cans.

“I used to be able to donate to the food bank and help other people but once I was retired and my income became a consent; it doesn’t fluctuate much... I used to love to be generous and its harder now because I don’t feel like I am doing that for people, but I appreciate people doing it for us now,” said Lynn.

For more information about this weeks Together We Can Food and Fund drive, click here.

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