Antonia doesn’t have enough money to buy food. A senior citizen who lives at Plaza Taino in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, she relies on Catholic Charities Senior Food Nutrition Program for all of her meals.
“Each month I depend on one social security check for all my expenses,” Antonia said. “If I didn’t receive food from Catholic Charities, I would have to use my entire check on groceries.”
That would leave her no money for daily supplies, clothing, or medicine she might need.
The Senior Food Nutrition Program is a United States Department of Agriculture supplemental food and nutrition program. Each month a nutritious food package is provided at no cost to participants, along with supplemental food and nutrition education. To qualify, participants must be 60 years or older and have an annual gross income at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Income guidelines.
“The people who live here, we don’t have much,” Antonia said. “We help distribute the food, and it makes the seniors here very happy.”
Jilberto also receives food through the program at Plaza Taino.
“I was so happy when they told me about it,” he said. “When the food comes, everybody is smiling and grateful. Many people here don’t have a lot of money, so it helps them.”
Jilberto, who said he enjoys cooking, said the food plays a part in every meal he makes. From milk for his oatmeal to cheese for sandwiches.
“It’s good for me,” he said. “We all depend on it.”
Plaza Taino is one of seven Catholic Charities Senior Food Nutrition Program distribution sites in Chicago. There are additional sites in Calumet Park, Summit, Cicero, and Des Plaines.
During Farmers Market season (between July and October 31), the seniors receive vouchers redeemable for fresh fruits and vegetables at their local farmers market. They also receive educational materials on the importance of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet and recipes to help prepare the food.