Each month, Neighborhood House provides critical food support to over 30 St. Paul households through NAPS, the Nutritional Assistance Program for Seniors. On every second Friday, volunteers and staff gather boxes filled with fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, and bread and deliver them to the homes of seniors with mobility challenges or limited access to transportation.
When temperatures drop and icy sidewalks become difficult for many older adults to navigate, NAPS deliveries offer a reliable source of groceries and the opportunity for human contact. Marcella has lived in her home on the West Side for 50 years. She worked in a factory for many years and raised three children, but in the years since retirement has found it difficult to afford the food she needs. “The food I receive really helps me to stretch my grocery budget for those lean months.”
Standing in Marcella’s kitchen with a pot simmering on the nearby stove, it’s apparent that the impact of food delivery goes well beyond nutrition. Mai Yia and Seng, members of Neighborhood House’s Food Support team, have been making NAPS deliveries for several years – and during that time they have built strong relationships with many of the recipients. “All of our participants love Seng,” Mai Yia says, “they always offer coffee because they never want him to leave.”
With many more deliveries to make, Mai Yia and Seng gather up their things and prepare to leave. But as he turns to go, Seng pulls a fleece blanket from his bag and hands it to Marcella. “We’re a little late for Christmas” he says, “but we wanted you to have something to help stay warm.” Overcome with happiness, Marcella exclaims “it’s my birthday next week! This is perfect.”
This March we’re trying to raise 225,000 pounds of food or dollars to help Marcella and other members of our community receive the food they need. Your gift will make a difference for the 16,000 people we serve each year!
By Anders Ringdahl-Mayland