By Steve White
contributing writer 

Be grateful for the helpers

Life with Pepe


June 5, 2021

Jack Sann


Now that "this" is beginning to wind down in our local area I – accompanied, of course, by my constant companion, Pepe – have just barely begun to take a toe step into potentially hot water during the SIP (sheltering in place), isolation routines that have been pretty much well established for us during the year 2020; now leading into mid 2021.

Simple things, like meal planning and purchasing food combined with preparation and enjoying the pleasures of eating the meal itself, have been an everyday, time consuming activity for us for well over a year. Pepe, of course, is at my side while "we" do all meal preparation. Pepe's job, during meal preparation, is that of a Sous Chef: if a scrap of food may fall "by accident" from the counter he will be responsible for the clean up. Pre-washing a meal preparation bowl that is destined for the dishwasher is also part of his job responsibilities. Hope springs eternal for the always dutiful Pepe.

I do enjoy cooking; but how many of your own home cooked meals can you consume before they become boring leftovers in the fridge/freezer? Shopping for food items becomes routine. Wee morning hours when few other shoppers are present; with list in hand, tunnel vision shopping for the same old recipes that are frequently prepared.

Well, do I have a story for you:

The federal and local governments have been instrumental in supporting food programs for the elderly and economically disadvantaged. These programs began a few years before I was born. The programs vary in different areas. When we were living on the Big Island of Hawaii pre-pandemic, for example, a nearby community had a program for free noon-day nutritious meals for seniors. Surplus produce was also available at no cost for "take home" preparation. The neighborhood where I lived, a few miles distant, had the same exact program for $2 per day. An application process for the local distribution was required to qualify and there was a long wait. When I review the differences in the programs for the two areas, I understand why they are different. One is intended primarily for the families of Hawaii's original natives, now stranded on an island, after the company-owned provided housing was no longer available.The sugar barons had left the islands, their employees were now abandoned to live on their own. The other community, where we lived, is populated primarily with retired mainland transplants that have made Hawaii their retirement home.

That said, Americans (along with most of the world) are now in a desperate need to boost the economy, employ or financially support the less fortunate, feed the starving, provide health care. . . the list continues.

I grew up in a large family, mostly on small acreages in rural areas, with depression era parents. I can well recall the stories that we boys were told by our parents and grandparents about the "Spanish Flu"; the depression; soup lines; the economic crisis when Wall Street crashed. There were no federal programs such as we have today to assist the less fortunate.

How times have changed! Those patriarchal stories of "desperate times" that we often heard of are today a mere shadow of what we now have during a similar "pandemic era."

Today many local and federal programs are in place to assist the less fortunate. The Baby Boomer generation has mostly retired with a lifetime guaranteed income. Many of the children of Depression era parents are desperate for "something to do" with time on their hands during this period of being locked down and sheltering In place. Those individuals are now willingly volunteering to assist. After all, they readily recall what their parents went through during a similar crisis. My how their time is appreciated!

The local Salvation Army, for example, has a program where produce and other foods that are donated by local groceries, is distributed to persons regardless of their financial circumstances. This program is also supported by financial assistance from the Federal and State Governments.

There are many other similar programs offered. Some are private organizations that distribute grocery items which help support various activities. Often these programs have a volunteer contribution which further supports the community. Obviously a win-win for both sides.

Sharing in some of these programs has brought food to my home that I would not normally purchase. And what a blessing that has been for Pepe and I! By taking advantage of the many recipes I find on the internet, we are able to prepare a wide variety of delicious, nutritious meals. I am so appreciative of these food programs.

Pepe is a small, male Chihuahua mix, 8 years old, that accompanies Steve everywhere. Steve has a hearing disability that allows him to have an ADA Certified Service Dog.


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