By Zach Nissen, Food Bank Food & Nutrition Services Outreach Coordinator

Photo of SeniorAccepting help can be difficult for a person who has worked their whole life to build a secure future. Like Mary, a 91-year-old widow living in Durham whom I recently met while doing outreach in the community. She broke her hip earlier this year and finally accepted a meal delivered to her at home each weekday. She doesn’t have any family in the immediate area, and getting around is harder and harder each day. I recently visited with Mary to see if she had additional needs. She reluctantly admitted that even with the weekday meal delivery, she sometimes had to get by with just bread and water for other meals.

The Food Bank’s mission is “No One Goes Hungry in Central and Eastern North Carolina” and it is unacceptable to us that our neighbors – seniors, families, and children – are “getting by” on just bread and water. Or worse, some are skipping meals entirely or choosing to forego critical prescription medication or heat for their home in the winter months in order to purchase food. The Food Bank is here to ensure our friends and neighbors are doing better than just “getting by,” especially during the holidays.

We know there are 45,505 seniors in central & eastern NC who live in poverty. We know there are thousands more living on a fixed income who just don’t have quite enough to afford their medication, heat in their home, and buy healthy food on a regular basis. It is my job to help these seniors and make sure they have enough to eat.

I helped Mary apply for Food and Nutrition Services benefits so she can receive, as she puts it, “just a little something extra” to help her buy healthy groceries. After we completed her application, she gave me a hug. As she struggled to stand up, she told me how appreciative she was that I had taken the time to visit her. She had a tear in her eye as she talked to me, and I’ll admit, I had one in mine, too.

While hunger has become a serious problem in our service area year-round, the holidays are an awful time to be without food. By choosing to give the gift of a meal, you can make the holiday season brighter for a child or senior struggling with hunger in your community. Your gift could be the difference between an empty holiday table, and the feeling of normalcy, comfort, and security a full plate can bring. Give a meal online at