SAN ANTONIO – Senior citizens are the most vulnerable people to contract the coronavirus.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, tens of thousands of them have something else to worry about: hunger.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were about 75,000 seniors dealing with hunger in San Antonio. Since about March, that number has skyrocketed to more than 87,000.
This is why Hunger Action Month, which is when people all over the United States stand together with the Feeding America network to fight hunger, is so important to seniors.
Thanks to the San Antonio Food Bank, people like San Antonio native Emma Ortega was able to take advantage of the help supplied by the community.
“Everybody needs help at one time or another,” Ortega said.
In April, Ortega was one of many residents who arrived at Food Bank distribution day at Traders Village. She was persuaded to go to the event by some of her neighbors. She decided to take advantage of the opportunity, not only for herself, but also for her neighbors.
“It helped me get stuff that I could help other people with, especially some of the older people that don’t get out," Ortega said.
It was not easy accepting that help.
Ortega was born and raised in San Antonio. Her family was poor but proud, so it took some reasoning with herself to make the trip. She decided that she could not only get food for herself and friends but maybe get the word out so loneliness is not another problem seniors have to fight.
“It is not about you, it is about them. What the Food Bank is doing, what the people who donate to the Food Bank are about,” Ortega said.
She also thinks back on her experience at Traders Village.
" Everybody was smiling. The volunteers were all smiling, saying, ‘Good morning how are you? Oh, we have great stuff for you," Ortega said. “It made me feel like you weren’t begging for something. It made me feel like they wanted to give you these things, and it didn’t make you feel less than anything.”
Ortega and the Food Bank have a message for San Antonio residents in need: They are here to help.