Healthy Meals for a Compassionate Grandmother

As a result of racial and social inequities that leave Indigenous families facing food deserts, water shortages, joblessness and limited access to transportation, many Native Americans struggle to keep healthy food on the table. Southwest Reservation Aid® (SWRA), a program of Partnership With Native Americans® (PWNA), helps. Through services like SWRA Standard Food, nonperishable staple foods are delivered in bulk to Elder Nutrition Centers (ENCs) that in turn use it to prepare healthy, hot meals for Elders.

One such ENC is the Zuni Senior Center on the Zuni reservation in New Mexico, where our Program Partner Coordy and her staff prepare hot meals every weekday. Serving congregate meals in the center for an average of 15 Elders. Cordy is happy to see familiar faces since they reopened from the COVID-19 pandemic. Her team is also home-delivering meals to over 100 Elders.

One beneficiary of SWRA Standard Food is Carol, a 71-year-old Zuni Elder. Growing up in the pueblo with her two late brothers, Carol now has four children living nearby and often sees her stepsister for meals at the ENC.

Carol graduated high school and attended college in California for a year before returning home to take care of her mother until she passed away in 1982. Since then, Carol has dedicated her life to helping children in her community, working for a daycare and then a cook position at the local middle school for over 20 years. Now retired since 2014, she is proud of her children and 11 grandchildren, most of whom followed in her footsteps and work for their school districts.

Carol currently supports herself on her retirement and social security incomes – roughly $1600 per month. She splits her food shopping between the Halona Marketplace in Zuni and Gallup supermarkets (about 35 miles away).

After having open heart surgery due to clogged arteries, Carol recognizes the importance of healthy food and a healthy lifestyle; she even competed in the fast walk at the 2019 Senior Olympics in Albuquerque. “It’s good that [seniors] can have this healthy food to eat; many may not have it otherwise,” she said.

Receiving hot meals at the center since 2009, Carol is happy with her diet and the hot meals being provided. [The Standard Food service “has really helped me a lot,” she said. “It’s good that the [center] cooks and we can come in to eat… and it’s nice to send the food for Elders to eat at home and not go hungry.

Aside from the food, Carol always looks forward to socializing with her peers and practicing her yarn work during arts and crafts. Some of her favorite meals are hamburgers and meatloaf, and she loves to make enchiladas and tacos with her family for Taco Tuesdays.

Your donation to SWRA today can help provide hot, healthy meals and keep food on the table for Native American Elders like Carol.

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