Skip to Main Content
Hunger Beat

Across Cook County, food programs care for older adults

Hursell Dolly has lived in his apartment building in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood for almost 40 years.

Dolly, 70, lived there with his mother until she passed away in 2012. After she had a stroke in 1991, he became her full-time caretaker. It made sense, he said, considering her years dedicated to raising and caring for him.

“She did the same for me,” Dolly said. “So it’s just payback.”

In partnership with the Food Depository, his apartment complex – the Pines of Edgewater – runs a monthly food pantry for older adults living in its buildings. It’s a big help, Dolly said, especially as inflation causes gas prices and other bills to rise.

Hursell Dolly

Pines of Edgewater resident Hursell Dolly (left) and Becky John, resident service coordinator. Pines of Edgewater hosts a monthly food distribution for older adults. Photo by Nancy Stone for the Food Depository.

“In this day and time, every little bit helps,” he said.

Older adults can be greatly affected by food insecurity. Barriers like living on fixed incomes due to retirement, physical limitations or other medical disabilities can make it difficult to balance affording groceries with other needs.

In addition to traditional community partners that serve people of all ages, the Food Depository also works with more than 180 older adult food distributions to support those in need. These distributions largely take place at community centers or residential facilities.

The following photos were taken this summer at LaSalle Street Church and Pines of Edgewater apartment complex, both on Chicago’s North Side, the Pav YMCA in Berwyn, and Calumet Township Senior Center in the south suburbs. Photos were taken by Nancy Stone, Kenneth Johnson and Lou Foglia for the Food Depository.


LaSalle Street Church. Photo by Nancy Stone.

Within walking distance of the LaSalle Street Church on Chicago’s Near North Side sits several senior residential centers. Twice a month, the church hosts a community market for nearby residents and makes deliveries to those who can’t make the trip.

Martin Brennan, who volunteered at the market for several years until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, picks up groceries for himself and his twin brother.

The South Side native, 77, said he appreciates the access to produce and other fresh items.

“It’s a real blessing,” Brennan said.


Marvell Goggins

Calumet Township Senior Center. Photo by Lou Foglia.

Marvell Goggins receives fresh and shelf-stable food from the Calumet Township Senior Center’s bimonthly Older Adult Market.


Albert Reed

Pines of Edgewater. Photo by Nancy Stone.

Albert Reed is a born and raised Chicagoan. He grew up in Humboldt Park but nowadays lives in Edgewater.

Reed, 62, worked in the hotel industry but had to retire several years ago due to health issues. He receives disability benefits and SNAP to take care of monthly expenses.

Reed appreciates the extra help from the food distribution, especially the nutritious options.

“If I can get fruits or vegetables here, then I can eat healthier,” he said.


Lian Ying Bai

LaSalle Street Church. Photo by Nancy Stone.

Lian Ying Bai picks up fresh fruit from the LaSalle Street Church community market.


Jennifer Hamilton

Calumet Township Senior Center. Photo by Lou Foglia.

Jennifer Hamilton, facilities manager at the Calumet Township Senior Center, packs grocery bags for the site’s Older Adult Market. Each market serves several dozen people – both by drive-up and walk-in.

Hamilton, a self-described people-person, enjoys working with her community. She also has a soft spot for older adults, she said. Hamilton cared for her grandmother until she passed in 2014.

“One of the guests calls herself my honorary grandma,” she mentioned with a smile.


Annie Bennett

Pines of Edgewater. Photo by Nancy Stone.

Annie Bennett supplements her groceries with the fresh produce she picks up from the Pines of Edgewaters’ distributions.

Bennett receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits but said it doesn’t stretch through the month as much as it once did.

“I need the extra food to make things last the week,” she explained.

Bennett, originally from Mississippi, has lived in Chicago for 32 years. The community she has built for herself these past three decades, she said, conjures up memories of being back in her home state.

“I love it here,” Bennett said. “People are so friendly and look after each other.”


Jose Flores

Pav YMCA. Photo by Kenneth Johnson.

Jose Flores picks up groceries from the PAV YMCA during one of its June distributions.


Groceries being transported

LaSalle Street Church. Photo by Nancy Stone.

Chris Evans (left) and George Williams transport bags of groceries from the LaSalle Street Church to the senior living facility across the street from the church. Once the in-person market is complete, church staff and volunteers, with the help of facility residents, provide food for their homebound neighbors.


Robert Costner

Pav YMCA. Photo by Kenneth Johnson.

Robert Costner has been attending the PAV YMCA’s bimonthly, drive-up food distributions for almost two years.

His favorite food to pick up is bananas. At home, he pairs them with oatmeal, cereal, and peanut butter.

With inflation at the highest it’s been in four decades, Costner said he is feeling the pinch on his wallet.

“You do what you can to keep up with food prices,” he said. “You watch out for the sales. And you come to community events like this where they’re giving out free food.”

Costner noted that not everyone has access to transportation, and he likes to lend a helping hand when he can. Since he has a car, Costner collects groceries for two neighbors as well.

“They are in the same boat as me,” he said. “They also think that every little bit helps.”


Patricia Murray

Pines of Edgewater. Photo by Nancy Stone.

“It’s nice when I need a can of beans or tomato sauce or something,” said Patricia Murray, 63. “I love to cook, especially soul food. I like spicy!”

Learn more about how the Food Depository supports older adults

Share This Post

More Recent Stories