An independent and resilient woman in her 60’s, Stella is thriving against all odds.

Stella left the Philippines 10 years ago by herself to seek a quieter life in Vancouver. It was challenging to find a job as a newcomer, but Stella was able to join the Army and Navy family, and she has worked there ever since.

Army and Navy, one of Canada’s original discount department stores, sadly wasn’t able to withstand the financial challenges that COVID-19 brought upon us. As the company shut down store after store, Stella inevitably lost her job.

Stella had heard of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank through friends living in the same seniors’ home. Some of her friends were long-term GVFB clients. Before the pandemic, Stella’s friends asked her if she wanted to become a GVFB client, but Stella said: “No, I’m working, I’m earning, I’m not going to avail that benefit and blessing.”

Little did Stella know that she would lose her job a few months later, and find herself in a position to act on her friends’ suggestion and reach out to the GVFB.

Stella is one of the many independent seniors in our community who is completely capable of taking care of herself, financially and physically, if not for the pandemic. All of the social activities in her seniors’ home are paused, and this can take a toll on active seniors like Stella.

“I don’t go to the GVFB every week, but when I need it, I really appreciate knowing I don’t have to go to bed hungry,” Stella said. “One of my neighbours has cancer, so she isn’t able to leave her apartment, so when I receive extra food from the GVFB, I always share with her.”

18% of GVFB clients are seniors, and 40% of the clients who visit our Vancouver food distribution site specifically are seniors. Understanding the vulnerabilities of this group, we are now working on developing a Seniors’ Program to provide a monthly supplement of specialized nutrition in addition to their weekly allotment. This way, we can ensure that our seniors in need have more of the nutrients they need to stay healthy and resilient.