Community groups helping seniors amidst food insecurity concerns during pandemic

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rising food insecurities during the pandemic have impacted a lot of people, especially seniors.

For many older individuals, getting food during the pandemic hasn’t been easy. Some seniors don’t have the option to drive to the grocery store, or are medically comprised and at too high-of-risk to be out in public.  

“I’m old. I’m 84. So if I catch pneumonia or something, you know, I could die,” said a senior citizen in Irondequoit. 

While many grocery stores offer pick-up and delivery options, food orders often have to be done online. But not all seniors have access to the internet or a smart phone. 

News 8 talked to another senior in Irondequoit who said, “I don’t have a computer, so there’s no way I can do anything online.” 

During the pandemic, many seniors rely on food banks or grab-and-go meal events. One of those events is held every week at the Irondequoit Senior Center. 

“This is the only way they can get that food because they aren’t able to drive, so the insecurity of not being able to know where their next meal is coming from, we can provide that for them,” said Jenna Kazak, the Recreation Supervisor with Town of Irondequoit. 

Kazak says during the pandemic they have seen an increase in the number of seniors needing food. 

“We serve on a daily basis, probably 30-50 seniors. Our numbers have increased throughout the pandemic surprisingly because there is that need, and with the grab-and-go, we’ve gone up to 65, almost 70 meals,” she said. 

Seniors are able to drive by the center, pick up their bag of frozen food, and then go home to cook it. They can even take a bag for family members or friends who need it. 

With an increase in the price of food or other essential items, seniors are also feeling an impact.

The founder of the Irondequoit Community cupboard, says they have seen the number of seniors they serve quadruple during the pandemic. 

“Things like toilet paper and soap, all those things have really risen dramatically and if a senior is on a fixed income, just living on your social security, those don’t really go up, so they’re really struggling right now,” said Debbie Evans, Founder and President of Irondequoit Community Cupboard.

The grab-and-go events and food banks are something area seniors say they are thankful for. 

One senior said, “It’s wonderful, you know this is our dinner out.” Another said, “we can be treated instead of having to fend for ourselves.” 

The events also give seniors an opportunity to socialize and say hi to people outside of their homes. Something that has been hard for many older adults during the pandemic. 

“I think it’s been really hard emotionally and psychology for them the most because they haven’t been able to see their family, their friends, even if you’re living in senior support housing, they usually have those coffee rooms where you can get together and have coffee, cookies and stuff like that and they haven’t been able to any of that,” Evans said. 

The Irondequoit Senior Center provides grab-and-go meals for seniors every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. 

For more information on Monroe County food nutrition programs, click here.

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