Breakfast with Mrs. G
When I pulled up on my bike to a brightly colored home surrounded by tall crotons and a few fruiting plants, I was greeted with a hug and kiss on the cheek by Mrs. G, who was excited to tell me about her Thanksgiving dinner with her family. I unlatched the produce bag from my bike and brought it inside to put on her counter. After settling in, she fired up her stove to heat up some eggs, tortillas, and leftover Thanksgiving ham to share with me. We spent an hour having lunch and catching up about the holidays, thrifting, and life in general.
A nearly 70 year old widow of over 10 years, Mrs. G lives alone in her East End home, where she spends her time tending to her garden, beautifully decorating her living space, and taking walks through the neighborhood greeting her neighbors.
Life in the Neighborhood
Over many lunches together, she’s reminisced to me fondly about raising her children in the neighborhood with her husband. Her cherished memories and the community she’s grown with for decades keeps her from ever wanting to move out of the neighborhood, she tells me. Just recently, a close neighborhood friend came by to paint her dining room and move a stove for her at no cost. This sort of relationship can be nearly impossible to rebuild from scratch in a new location. Walking along the Harrisburg hike and bike trail to see a dear friend in the senior living complex is one of the highlights for her. Her friend, who receives donated canned goods and other non-perishables from a local charitable entity, will occasionally share with Mrs. G.
However, she tells me she much prefers the fresh produce she receives from our Neighborhood Produce Program and will share with her friend in return.
Early this year, she let me know she was going to lose her SNAP benefits as a result of state funds running out for pandemic beneficiaries. That has made having enough money to spend on quality groceries rare, especially with the increased price of meat, eggs, and dairy. She tells me that without the biweekly Neighborhood Produce Program deliveries, she would have trouble affording additional items–like household goods–with the amount she receives in her monthly social security check, and would have to depend more on her children to supplement her income.
However, since this program does exist for her, she feels more free to purchase small luxury items like butter and cheese without having to tightly budget.
As we’re talking about this while eating scrambled eggs she received from our NPP box, she tells me that she eats every single item that comes in the produce box. This I have no doubt that she does–as an avid cook who loves to feed her guests, I am touched and grateful that the fresh seasonal vegetables grown around our Houston region are never going to waste in this home. Not only are they not going to waste, they are being prepared with tender love and care by a neighbor just blocks away from the farm who feels independent, valued, and cared for by the community she settled into many decades ago.
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