In the United States, seniors are the fastest growing food-insecure population. Currently, 1 in 12 seniors face hunger. Over the next decade, the number of seniors struggling with hunger is projected to double. Mansoor is one of the thousands of seniors who relies on food from Second Harvest every month. Watch or read his story below.
Mansoor found Second Harvest at a critical time in his life. Unable to make ends meet, he was living in his car and was down to just 95 pounds. A volunteer at one of Second Harvest’s partner agencies, Campbell United Methodist Church, saw Mansoor and suggested he come to a Brown Bag distribution for seniors.
“There’s a gentleman, a wonderful man, he saw me and asked why I was so thin. I say everything I think immediately… I told him, I’m hungry. I don’t have food. I cannot afford to eat. I told him part of the story. He says, ‘Come to the distribution. We feed people.’ I swear on your beautiful soul, we say in Persia, I would have died. I now weigh, it’s good, 145 pounds!”
Mansoor’s immigrated to the United States in the 1970s pursuing jobs in business. He was also an avid racquetball player and upon moving to San Jose in 1986 he became a racquetball instructor for a national gym chain leaving behind his management job to pursue his passion and to share his love for the sport with others. He was a racquetball instructor for the next 26 years. A restructuring at the gym led to a cancellation of the racquetball programs and Mansoor found himself out of a job. He eventually started delivering newspapers, becoming his own boss and appreciating the opportunity to interact with the public. He was paid by the number of papers he delivered and for several years was making around $3,500 a month and life was going great.
But as technological advancements ushered in new consumer habits and people stopped buying a daily paper, Mansoor’s livelihood took a hit. As an independent contractor for the newspaper, he has no insurance or benefits and could only look on as the number of papers he had to deliver declined.
“When I was getting 275 papers, I could still afford the rent. When it went down to 210, I couldn’t pay the rent. When it went down to 110, I was living in my car. Now I deliver 67 papers.”
Not only has the number of papers he has to deliver declined but so has his health. With bad arthritis, his job has gotten harder but he doesn’t give up.
“Every day I deliver papers. I go up 868 steps. Not at once, but in a day. I’m 74 years old. I deliver at a beautiful apartment complex. But, there are 36 steps just to get in the elevator. Going up isn’t the problem. But when I have to leave, I have to go down each step on my rear end.”
After many years of hardship, things are slightly better these days for Mansoor. In addition to delivering papers, he recycles every day to make ends meet and is no longer living in his car. He was able to get in to a low-cost senior living facility but he’s still living month to month. “My rent is $1,363. My paycheck is $750. If I make $750. Every fifteen days, it’s $375 or $350 or $340. If someone gives me a tip. If not, nothing extra. They’ve disconnected my phone because I couldn’t pay the bills. I have my degrees. I have my education. I just don’t have any money.”
The food from the Food Bank helps Mansoor survive and maintain his health. When he gets food from the distribution, he brings some back for the less mobile neighbors in his complex. “The food is great. Beautiful! Cauliflower. Snacks. It’s amazing. I help feeding my neighbors. I can’t even eat all the food. I have three elders next door. They’re so happy with the food I bring back from Second Harvest, too. I’m a vegetarian, so I give them all the meat. We hug each other!”
“What the Food Bank does… this is America! This is real America. It makes me so happy.”
**You can help Mansoor and many other seniors and families in need this holiday season and beyond by donating here.**