Grocery Plus Stories: Preston L. Williams - Capital Area Food Bank
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Grocery Plus Stories: Preston L. Williams

By Kirsten Bourne November 11, 2014

prestonFor some of the seasoned residents in the community, committing to a healthy diet isn’t enough. Many seniors—an estimated 15,000 in the District alone—are missing nutrients essential to maintaining an active lifestyle because they don’t have enough food.
“I usually eat one meal a day, maybe then I have some peanuts. On a good day, two meals, when I have an appetite,” said Preston L. Williams, who at 67, considers himself a young senior. A former law enforcement officer who was injured on the job, Williams is now retired and struggles to pay his Medicare payments. With his escalating medical bills, Williams has very little money left over for food.
“I look at people and see, if their income is $26,000 [vs. the Washington area median income of $88,000] and you’ve got a kid, a wife, a car, food, medicine, gas for the car, then something’s going to have to balance it out, and it’s food. To end up with macaroni cheese is fine, but not every night,” he explained.  When Williams’ is short on food, he scrounges through his pantry, including his stash of canned goods. “I’ve had to step it down, but I’m not down to cat food. So I’m doing all right so far.”
After surviving prostate cancer and thyroid cancer surgery, as well as a pulmonary embolism that left him hospitalized for 39 days, Williams’ attitude is “you can’t let it get you down, so you just make it through.”  He keeps his spirits up by gardening, but is often too weak to make it to the grocery store. So he, like roughly 6,000 others seniors in DC, turn to the Capital Area Food Bank’s Grocery Plus Program , which provides 30-40 pounds of healthy groceries monthly to seniors aged 60 or over who live in the District of Columbia and meet income guidelines.
“I know that without this nutrition, it would be impossible. Having the food there, available, you gotta eat when you’re hungry. I don’t see how people do without it. You’ve gotta take care of your body. You’ve gotta eat greens, you’ve gotta eat fruit. It’s a really terrible situation to be in when people don’t have food. [Food] means a lot emotionally, it makes you feel connected.” For Williams, the food he receives through the CAFB isn’t just about nutrition, it’s about feeling supported by his community and able to navigate life’s curve balls with limited resources.
The Capital Area Food Bank works endlessly so seniors are never faced with those types of decisions. This November is no different.
We want to continue providing senior citizens in the Brown Bag Program with a turkey and other Thanksgiving complements that typically make up this season’s delicious holiday meal. And, since many seniors are helping to support other family members, it is vital we have enough food for their families as well.
Invest today in the health and wellness of our seniors. Your contribution will go on to ensure there is a turkey at every table.