Serving Seniors with Dignity

St. Martin de Porres Senior Center in Providence provides critical social services to seniors — including a food pantry and meal site. It’s there that we met Valerie, a grandmother of nine grandchildren who understands the importance of stretching her limited budget. She and her husband rely on their pension and Social Security income to pay the bills. 


“It’s hard to live off a fixed income. I make it stretch by being really frugal,” Valerie shares. “They help me out here. I used to volunteer at a food pantry and I like being around my people, in my neighborhood, and helping others.” 


Linda is the multi-service director at the senior center. “I grew up the oldest of 13,” Linda says. “Things were really tough. So, when I see people out there struggling, it hits home.” 


The food pantry typically serves over 500 guests a month — up from around 25 people a month before the pandemic. Many guests are unhoused, or like Valerie, on a fixed income. In addition to pantry items, the agency offers clothes and personal care items to foster dignity in its guests. Healthy breakfasts and lunches are also served at the meal site and Food Bank SNAP Outreach team members assist guests in applying for SNAP benefits. 


Linda shares that many food pantry guests are of Haitian, West African and Middle Eastern heritage.