Arlene (77) has been a resident of Castle Towers Senior Living Community in Bensenville for more than 10 years, but you can tell she is still a city girl at heart. Born and raised in Chicago, Arlene has a wildly independent spirit and has traveled abroad many times throughout her life, including to India, Egypt, and China.
In recent years however, Arlene’s travels have centered around the trips she takes downtown multiple times each week to see doctors about her many health issues, some of which include non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, severe neuropathy, diabetes, and arthritis. With medical bills averaging at least $300 per month, transportation to the grocery store being difficult due to being in a wheelchair, and receiving minimal social security insurance benefits due to taking early retirement caused by her medical issues, Arlene has relied on Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Senior Meal Box program for the last couple years to help her make ends meet and have easier access to nutritious foods.
“[Having the box] saves me money I don’t have, and since I can’t drive, this really helps because I don’t have to think or worry about how I’ll get my groceries from the car back up to my apartment,” she explains.
Last year, the Food Bank’s Meal Box program provided more than 600 seniors across Northern Illinois with a monthly box of nutritious, shelf-stable foods. As Arlene eagerly opens her box, she shares that the peanut butter is her favorite item due to the protein it provides. She also loves getting stuffing mix (a favorite comfort food), milk to use in her cereal and tea, potatoes for an easy-to-prepare side dish, and that the sugar-free Jello is a diabetes-friendly treat.
“[The box] is good for me mentally because it’s something to look forward to, and I always look forward to seeing what I’m going to get this month. It’s like a surprise at Christmas,” Arlene says.
Although she greatly appreciates and enjoys the box she receives each month, Arlene explains that – having been in the working world since she was 16 and having been a longtime volunteer at what is now Lurie Children’s Hospital in downtown Chicago – asking for help and signing up for the Senior Meal Box program was difficult.
“I’ve always been independent and have never had to ask for anything,” she says. “While I’m so thankful for the many blessings in my life – my career, my travels, the roof over my head – it was hard to ask for help.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart – I am so grateful to the people who were kind enough to provide the money to the Food Bank for this food, and to the Food Bank volunteers who took time out of their lives to pack a food box for me…Arlene!”
Interested in supporting our senior neighbors like Arlene through the Food Bank’s Senior Box program? Please contact Amy Dyer: Email or call (630) 443-6910 ext. 143