As a former military man, 66-year-old Bobby has a tough attitude toward cancer. With eight grandchildren to chase around the yard, the Hillyard resident is determined to beat the odds.
Bobby knows that eating a healthy diet is important, but after being diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, he and his wife had to tighten their belts to pay additional medical expenses and afford food.
"If it wasn't for the VA (Spokane VA Medical Centerl), I'd never be able to afford chemo," said Bobby, who served a four-year tour of duty in both the Air Force and Navy.
Bobby and Barbara's monthly budget is broken down by priorities. Bills come first, he explained, and any money that remains goes for groceries. With everything from apples and lettuce to meat and milk costing more, affording a healthy diet has become a challenge.
Second Harvest understands the value of nutrition in preventing and improving a variety of health conditions. That's why Second Harvest offers Food Sense nutrition classes in partnership with Washington State University Extension of Spokane County. The classes rotate among neighborhood food banks and provide an opportunity for people to learn how to create inexpensive, yet healthy meals. Food Sense instructors provide recipes that utilize items commonly included in emergency food supplies, coupled with inexpensive ingredients that clients can purchase on their own.
Last year, Food Sense served more than 9,000 people, many of them seniors like Bobby and Barbara who enjoy socializing while learning new ways of stretching their food dollars. Second Harvest provides fruits, vegetables, peanut butter and other foods free of charge to help participants eat a healthier diet.
"It helps out a whole lot. Like I said, our bills come first," Bobby said.
So far Bobby has defied doctors' predictions. He was originally given less than a year to live and now, two-plus years down the road, is going strong. Bobby figures that he needs to stick around for at least another 15 years so he can see his 3-year-old granddaughter Olivia graduate from high school.
Good nutrition and a positive attitude help.
"If you worry about your problems they will be twice as bad," Bobby said. "I'm not going to let it overtake me."
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