On a rainy Wednesday morning, Dora sat in the lobby of the Olneyville Food Center on Manton Avenue in Providence. She was assigned the number 10 and was waiting her turn as other clients shuffled in and out of the busy food pantry.
The Olneyville Food Center is one of 160 member agencies that make up the network of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
There had been a line at the door before the pantry opened so all of the guests seemed to appreciate finally getting inside and having a seat where it was warm and dry. The waiting area was full but staff and volunteers were quickly moving people through the shopping area.
Dora is sixty-eight years old. She worked for many years but now her arthritis makes it hard for her to use her hands for very long.
She also has the responsibility of caring for two young boys, eleven and six. It’s more responsibility than she expected to have at this stage in her life. One boy is her grandson while the other was adopted after his mother passed away.
Twenty percent of the clients served by Food Bank member agencies are over the age of sixty.
Twenty-two percent of the households served by the Food Bank have a family member in poor health.
When number 10 is called, Dora picks up her reusable grocery bags and heads into the pantry where she is greeted by a volunteer. She makes her way through the shelves selecting food for herself and her the two boys.
She picks up rice and pasta which she knows she can use to make several meals. She also takes some canned vegetables which are important for the boys who are still growing.
In the end, she fills two large bags that seem too heavy to carry. But she manages.
She will be back in two weeks – that’s her schedule and she looks forward to seeing what new items might arrive on the shelves.
Until then, she heads back out into the rain – to home and the boys – with her shopping bags.