Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County focuses on providing for senior community

Ashley Mackey Image
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
OC food bank focuses on feeding senior community
A weekly food distribution in Orange County has helped a woman and her husband. They're some of the thousands who have benefitted from the vital resource.

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- Elizabeth Balao says she became her husband's caregiver about three years ago when he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.

It was around this time that she heard about the weekly food distribution at the Norman P. Murray Senior Center in Mission Viejo.

"When the veterans gave us this place for a source of a kind of help in a way, it did really, really help us a lot," Balao said.

Claudia Keller of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County says some people may be surprised to learn of the need in Orange County, saying the organization serves close to 430,000 people on average every month. She says a particular concern is the senior population.

"It's a hidden epidemic that you may not see as many families will sacrifice their food budget to stay housed," Keller said. "Because we know that the cost of housing in Orange County is particularly high."

"Even with the help of the veterans, his former employee, and social security, living in Aliso Viejo is very expensive," Balao said.

Seniors visit the center every Friday for the drive and get the choice of picking their food instead of being handed a box or bag. Keller says fresh produce is a priority, saying the food bank gets its food from the federal government, donations from companies and farmers, and they provide food from their own farm.

"As we do get older, sometimes grocery shopping is difficult to do," said Joshua Vecchione, a Mission Viejo city commissioner and a volunteer at Second Harvest. "So I love this park-it market, because it gives an opportunity to get fresh vegetables, which I enjoy for them and other foods that maybe they wouldn't have at home."

If you want to get involved with Second Harvest you can find more information to volunteer at