With the help of his good friend Charlie, Steve makes it up the steel stairs of the makeshift mobile home that houses the Hoquiam Food Bank, a Food Lifeline partner agency. He feels pretty good, but life is tough right now for this Grays Harbor senior.
“Things changed when I retired,” says Steve. “I went from a decent income to, you know, scraping by. And this place helps a lot.”
In the past three years, Steve has suffered two back injuries and has felt the rapid progression of his diabetes. With Medicare and a small savings, he’s managed to get by—until recently.
“On Father’s day, last year, I went to the hospital with a bloated stomach, and the doctor said ‘you have leukemia’.”
Steve’s had surgeries on both eyes and he takes a long list of medications. The costs make it hard to keep food on the table. But the Hoquiam Food Bank, which Food Lifeline supplies with nutritious foods—including fruits and vegetables—helps him get the fresh food he needs.
“As I add more medicines to my daily regimen, I have to figure out how I’m going to work with this stuff,” he says. “Vegetables are really important to my diet, otherwise I’m just miserable.”
Steve is one among a growing number of seniors who rely on food banks in Western Washington. Rising taxes and higher medication costs are making this age group one of the fastest growing segments of the population Food Lifeline serves.
“I never expected to be in this situation.”