Farm Bureau gives $1,500 to senior center for food programs

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Farm Bureau Insurance agents Robert Barrigar, left, and Jason Barbeau, right, present a $1,500 check to Alpena Senior Citizens Center Director Annie Hepburn, center, from the Farm Bureau Insurance Agent Charitable Fund for use toward food programs at the senior center.

ALPENA ­– On Friday, Robert Barrigar and Jason Barbeau of Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,500 check from the Farm Bureau Insurance Agent Charitable Fund to Alpena Senior Citizens Center Director Annie Hepburn for use toward food programs.

With the ever-rising costs of food and transportation, Hepburn is grateful for the donation, and said it will go to good use to benefit the seniors of Alpena County.

“The money is going directly toward our food costs,” Hepburn said. “We’ve seen a huge rise in our food costs. Back in the day, it was maybe $10,000 a month, whereas now, it’s closer to $18,000 to $20,000. So, we’ve had a massive increase in food costs.”

Barrigar explained the role of the Agent Charitable Fund.

“The Agent Charitable Fund is a pot of money that all of the agents contribute to,” said Barrigar, who owns Robert Barrigar Agency in Alpena and also serves as the president of the Agent Charitable Fund statewide. “The Agent Charitable Fund’s mission is ending hunger in Michigan.”

Hepburn said Alpena County seniors depend on the food services the senior center offers, including congregate meals at lunchtime five days a week at the center. Others depend on Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to their door for those who may not be able to get to the center.

“We’ve also seen a rise in our clients for Meals on Wheels,” Hepburn said. “Right now, we have the most Meals on Wheels clients. I’ve been here seven years. We’ve never had more than 200, and we are at 222 right now. Last month, we brought on 26 new Meals on Wheels clients. I’m saying that’s related to cost of food, cost of gas.”

With the nearly doubled cost of food, Hepburn said any help from the community to defray those costs would be welcomed.

“We’re looking toward other businesses and organizations to help support us so that we can continue to feed the seniors in Alpena County,” Hepburn said.

Gloria Beth, 81, was enjoying a hearty lunch on Friday at the senior center.

“I like it here,” she said. “More and more, I hear, I’ve listened to the people, and they say this is what they look forward to all week long, is getting together.”

She said the social aspect of meals and programs at the center is essential to the well-being of many seniors.

“The eating is so important, because the room is, pretty much, full right now,” Beth said. “It’s because they get to actually be with each other. It isn’t even always about the food. It’s about socializing and getting out of the house so you’re not so depressed. I’m hearing a lot of people saying they’re depressed, and if they didn’t have this, they’d be home by themselves, really in bad shape.”

She added that the people working at the senior center are always kind and friendly, “and the food is wonderful.”

Lunch is a suggested donation of $4.50 for those 60 and older, and a cost of $8 for those younger than 60.

“We like to give a little extra,” Beth added. “But you don’t have to. You don’t have to prepare it, you don’t have to clean up after. I mean, really, it’s such a good deal.”

The Alpena Senior Citizens Center is located at 501 River St., Alpena. If you have questions, visit alpenaseniors.com, or call 989-356-3585.


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