“Eye-opening” is how Gloria describes the first time she came to Bread For All. She says she was nervous and apprehensive about coming because of a few previous experiences at other food pantries—none particularly positive. “From the time I walked in the door at Bread For All—I’ll never forget—someone greeted me, smiling.” It was a game-changer for Gloria.
Six years ago, Gloria was diagnosed with diabetes. After the initial diagnosis, she took pills for her disease but, admittedly, wasn’t disciplined with her diet. As a result, her disease progressed rapidly.
A few years after the diagnosis, she became overweight and was very sick. A new treatment regimen required her to take insulin injections. A nurse counseled her, however, and said that she could manage her diabetes by following a proper diet. Because Gloria was retired and on a fixed income, the nurse recommended that she visit the Bread For All (BFA) Food Pantry and follow a disciplined diet including more fresh vegetables and fruits, and avoid sweets.
“The first time I came to the food pantry, there was a big box of Splenda.” She felt as if the counsel from the nurse to avoid sweets was divinely directed. Gloria took the Splenda home—which she had never liked—and it helped her give up sweets. “I love Splenda now! Even though I was a diabetic, I wasn’t disciplined in my diet. But I’ve since gone from a size 14 dress to a size 8,” she says with a big smile, “and my health is much improved.” She no longer has to take insulin shots.
A daughter of Gloria’s lives in San Antonio where she directs a new food pantry from her church. When she told Gloria about the plan to establish the pantry, Gloria gave her some advice based on her own personal experience: “Mija, when the people come in—especially the senior citizens—I want you to greet them with a smile . . . People who go to your pantry need a smile and a warm greeting.” Her daughter, she says, has taken her mother’s good advice and reminds her pantry volunteers to put on their smiles when neighbors come to receive food.
Gloria, a life-long resident of Austin’s Montopolis neighborhood, has twenty-seven grandchildren. She says that she has told every one of them about her positive experiences at BFA—the smiles, the warm greetings, and her improved health based upon choosing fresh fruit and vegetables, available to her and others, at the food pantry.