Feeding kids and feeding seniors–how a mistake became a blessing at an Amarillo apartment complex

Hunger Action Month

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — It is a program of the High Plains Food Bank that feeds kids a hot meal every day after school. But don’t let the name fool you–when a need arose for local senior citizens, the Kid’s Cafe was able to answer the call and makes sure our older neighbors are fed, as well.

The opportunity for these seniors to gather and share or grab a meal at the Mariposa Apartment Complex started out as a mistake.

A delivery driver for the High Plains Food Bank dropped off a few dozen hot meals from the Kid’s Cafe at the wrong apartment complex. The organization scrambled to make sure the place where the delivery was intended to go got their meals, but the food at Mariposa did not go to waste.

High Plains Food Bank Kid’s Cafe Director Maribel Sotelo explains, “We asked, ‘Is this something that you need here?’ All of the residents that were here at the time said ‘Yes.'”

Sotelo continued, “It was they were living basically making choices between medication and food, which one’s more important, and so they would obviously opt for medication.”

That was the beginning of a partnership that has fed dozens of seniors, every day for five years.

Sotelo explains the community it’s helped to build, “Once we had the food here, they started coming out. And they started engaging with each other and having just starting to be neighborly with each other. And we saw a change, and it was a great change. And then we just stayed. We made it part of the program, part of our Kid’s Cafe program, which serves children, but then we just added this piece.”

For volunteer and recent widow, Celia Thompson, it’s given her a sense of community, and an ability to serve that she had been missing.

“I really enjoy them and love them.” Thompson said, “And I just–I don’t have a family, so they become my family.”

It’s a daily appointment that Thompson rarely misses.

She says it provides both structure and sustenance.

“You just never know, I don’t know what their lives her life exactly in their homes, but I think it’s the most important thing. The food bank is very important. If we didn’t have it, I don’t, I don’t think a lot of these people would survive,” Thompson said.

For as long as there is a need, the High Plains Food Bank will continue to help.

“We ask, ‘how important are we to the community? Do you need us here? Is there a need? Is there not a need?’ And every time those surveys come back and it is always, ‘Yes, the need is here. You help my budget, You help, you know, this food that we’re getting, if the Food Bank was not around, I literally would have to be paying my rent late every month. I wouldn’t be able to get my medicine. I wouldn’t be able to afford a vehicle or I just wouldn’t be able to live.’ And that’s, that’s paramount. Food is paramount to everything we do.” Sotelo said.

To donate to the High Plains Food Bank, click here.

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