At first glance, Ralph and Linda appear to be exact opposites. He is tall and quick to deliver a joke, while she is shorter and more serious. But beyond appearances, this husband-and-wife pair is united in their love for their family – and their gratitude for how the Food Bank is making a difference in their lives.
After first hearing about the Food Bank’s Senior Grocery Market (now the Winnebago Community Market) by word-of-mouth, Ralph and Linda started coming to take part in the grocery distribution in September 2017. Longtime residents of Rockford, they live just a few minutes away with Linda’s grown children and granddaughter, Maggie.
Ralph, whose background is in theatre and publicity, shares that he first came to the city with NBC as a film and art director, and had an extensive career as a communications professional.
“I worked for almost every major industry in Rockford, and here I am at a food bank,” he says. “What in the dickens!”
Although the idea of needing help in order to put food on the table has been an adjustment, both Ralph and Linda are thankful for the assistance they have found at the Food Bank, and impressed at the efficiency of the program.
“I’m amazed at how well this whole operation goes!” Ralph says, gesturing to the volunteers and clients. “I feel comfortable here. Not threatened. Not intimidated … not embarrassed.”
They are also glad to see different types of food available to choose from. “I like the variety,” Linda says. “The meat, that’s a biggie – especially beef. [But] I use all of it. I cook from scratch.”
As for how the food they take home helps with their budget and current resources?
“We eat!” Ralph quips lightheartedly with a roguish grin and a wink. When Linda swats at his arm, he continues more seriously, “It’s a blessing.”
Linda explains that although they receive SNAP benefits each month, the total amount has been greatly reduced. Thus, coming to the Food Bank allows them to get nutritious groceries without putting an additional burden on their budget.
As they continue shopping, Linda adds a head of lettuce to the basket of the cart. Ralph surveys the contents with a smile. “It’s hard being on the downward slope,” he says. “I’m not used to that. [So] it’s extremely helpful here.”
(1)Petre, Alina. “The 17 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 16 Aug. 2016.
(2)Craig, Winston J, et al. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2009.
(3)“Tips for Vegetarians.” ChooseMyPlate, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
(3)Cassetty, Samantha. “Ask a Nutritionist:What Are the Best Sources of Plant-Based Protein?” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 15 Mar. 2019.