Ms. Lee: I am a widow. My sugar level was over 400. I have no teeth. Let me tell y my story.
Once a week, some eighty senior citizens attend health awareness education classes at Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) in Atlanta, Georgia. Some of the activities in which the seniors participate include singing, jazzercise, origami, Photovoice, and knitting. During their time at the Center, the seniors also learn about FNS nutrition programs, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The program also helps to educate seniors about nutrition and how they can use SNAP benefits to purchase and prepare food for a healthier diet.
I came from Korea. My parents were pretty well off. We had meat and sweets whenever we wanted. I hated vegetables. When I was a in junior high, I met the love of my life. We had a near perfect life. He died of TB at the age of 32. But before he died, he didn't want to pain me so he never told me he was dying. Instead, he filed for divorce thinking I will be better off a divorced woman rather than a widow. After he died, I found his diary reading his pain to save my heart from breaking.
Judy Yi, Program Director for CPACS, says, "Since 2007, we have been able to assist approximately 35,000 people to learn about SNAP nutrition benefits through our outreach and advocacy efforts. CPACS provides support to Limited English Proficient communities of over 16 different languages, mainly Asian languages, helping them to navigate the system to improve better health and food access."
I've had people taking care of me all my life. I am spoiled. Always thinking about how the past has hurt me, I haven't been responsible for my health. I am poor, with no teeth, with sugar level over 400, and a widow. I want to change my life. I want to have a healthy mind and a healthy body now. I don't like being sick any more.
Through outreach efforts and nutrition classes provided by CPACS and other like-minded community organizations, more low income seniors are using their SNAP benefits to purchase healthier food items and transform their lives.
I just recently applied for SNAP benefits through the Center. I received my first EBT card. I can't tell you how this has allowed me to buy healthier foods. Thank God my sugar level is lower.
As Ms. Lee has proven, with a little support, it is never too late to reshape your life.
The Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS) is a private non-profit organization serving the Atlanta area since 1980 and a FY2007 SNAP Outreach grantee. CPACS mission is to create and deliver culturally competent and comprehensive social and health services to counteract problems faced by immigrants, refugees, and racial-ethnic minorities.
In Soon Lee leads seniors in a group sing-along of Korean classic songs. Photo by Vino Wong, Atlanta Journal Constitution