“It's wonderful to have the H.O.M.E. Shopping Bus Service. It is reliable and takes us to stores for groceries that I couldn't get to. It is very helpful and pleasant. It relieves anxiety and is very much appreciated. Thank you H.O.M.E. shopping bus!!”
Since 1991, H.O.M.E.’s wheelchair-accessible shopping bus has served older adults living in senior buildings throughout the city of Chicago. Seniors are given free, safe transportation from their residence to stores nearby, where they can shop for groceries, medication, and household items. H.O.M.E. has provided thousands of individual trips and in the last year there were over 3,500 seniors served by the shopping bus.
The shopping bus creates a social outing with many of the seniors looking forward to the next trip. It also alleviates stress, as seniors won’t have to worry about riding the CTA, getting a cab, walking, or asking others for rides. One senior wrote, “I look forward to my trip. I don't have to beg family to take me to the store.”
H.O.M.E.’s shopping bus service wouldn’t be what it is without the always cheerful driver, Ernest. Ernest began working at H.O.M.E. as part of the original moving program, which unfortunately had to end. However, a position for a bus driver opened up and it was a perfect fit for him.
Ernest has been driving the shopping bus since 2009 and has been a true delight to all the passengers. One senior made a comment about the shopping bus, saying, “Ernest is very helpful getting on and off bus and packing my cart with the bags. Sometimeshe talks to us like we are 10 years old again!” And another said, “I am very satisfied with the bus service and also the bus driver. He is so nice and patient with us. We just love him so much. Thank you, thank you so very much. It's just what we need.” I spent a day riding the bus with Ernest and I could tell he has a genuine love for the seniors riding the bus. He made the trip light-hearted and created a good atmosphere, which allowed for great conversations. When I told the seniors I was from Canada, I was referred to as Canada for the remainder of the day!
The mission of H.O.M.E. is to help low-income seniors maintain their independence and committed to improving the quality of life for Chicago’s low-income elderly.H.O.M.E.’s shopping bus service goes beyond providing a free ride to grocery stores. Many of the seniors who ride the bus are low-income, use some sort of walker, and live in food deserts. In other words, some of these seniors don’t have the means to get to grocery stores. Thus, the shopping bus is fulfilling this mission, as it provides a way for seniors to get to grocery stores free and safely to purchase food, household items, and medications.
H.O.M.E.’s Shopping Bus service also aims to combat food security amongst older adults. In 1996, The World Food Summit defined food security as the state “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. It is a growing issue not only in Cook County, but nationwide. According to a study done by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, it was recorded that nearly 800,000 people are food insecure in Cook County.
According to Feeding America’s Senior Hunger Factsheet, some seniors sometimes had enough money to purchase food, but did not have the resources to access or prepare food due to lack of transportation, or health concerns. In a survey done to assess the Shopping Bus program, it was noted that 60% of seniors have access to healthy food. The Shopping Bus program aims to help seniors to not only have a way to get to stores, but to hve access to healthier foods.
We are able to provide resources for low-income seniors in Chicago because of donations that we receive.
H.O.M.E. is proudly partnering with #GivingTuesday and #ILGiveBig to encourage the spirit of charitable philanthropy this holiday season, because together, we change lives.
To find out more about H.O.M.E. and to provide support to low-income seniors, please visit our website. This post is part of our series to celebrate the impact of #GivingTuesday, which will take place this year on December 2, 2014. The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season. We'll be featuring one post about our clients every Monday in November.