Rose Kurst paints a picture that is all too common for many North Dakota seniors. It’s a story of difficult choices.
Rose has lived on her own since her husband passed away 18 years ago. Now 81 years old, she lives in a mobile home in Bismarck and you can hear the excitement in her voice when she speaks about her four grandkids and four great-grandkids.
But her demeanor quickly changes when conversations turn back to her every day struggles.
Her chief source of income is a monthly Social Security check, which only takes her so far.
Struggling health conditions become a consistent focus for her each day. She is on medication for a heart condition and has been attempting to visit a cardiologist for further treatment, but has had problems scheduling an appointment. She even tells a story about a recent doctor’s visit when she was immediately rushed to the emergency room as they determined she was at an extremely high risk for a heart attack or stroke. She spent over three days in the hospital.
It is because of her health issues and difficult circumstances that Rose makes regular visits to Ministry on the Margins in Bismarck, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank. The access to healthy food options has helped Rose dedicate some of her limited income to her other expenses.
“My Social Security doesn’t go very far and that’s all I have to live on,” she said. “By getting food from the food pantry, it gives me money to pay for my parking, my house insurance and my car insurance. It makes it a little bit easier so I don’t have to scrape and scratch so terribly hard. So this food helps immensely.”
And she struggles to consider a life without the food assistance that has been made readily available and is quick to give thanks to all involved that make the resource possible.
“There isn’t enough in my words to say how much I appreciate it and how thankful I am,” she said.