Taking care of each other is 'what life is all about'

Bertie in her car.
August 4, 2023

Bertie Branham, 78, has cared for others for as long as she can remember. 

Growing up with a single mother, Bertie helped raise her four younger siblings. She said she wishes that food banks had been around to help.

“We had to take care of each other and share with each other so that we could survive,” she said while picking up bags of groceries for her family at the Monacan Indian Nation Food Bank in Virginia. “Food has always been hard for us to come by.”

Before the pandemic forced the closure of the Monacan village history exhibit at the nearby Natural Bridge State Park, Bertie worked as an interpreter, cook, and gardener.

Now she’s living on a fixed income, and the food bank has become a lifesaver, she said. “I don’t have to worry about trying to get food anymore. It’s right here for me.”

The groceries help feed her grandchildren and their families, some of whom she looks after every day.

“That’s what life is all about: helping each other and taking care of each other,” she said.

Seven percent of seniors in the United States face food insecurity. Learn more about senior hunger in a newly-released report.