Shopping with food stamps: 'I'm totally surprised of where I'm at'

Shopping with food stamps: 'I'm totally surprised of where I'm at' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- They say retirement is bliss. A time to sit back, relax and enjoy life.

Linda Lajoie was a legal secretary and looking forward to retirement until an accident twelve years ago put her on disability. She lost her income -- and now relies on support from social security and Oregon's food stamp program. 

Growing up, hunger was never an issue for her. 

"My family, we ate real well. In fact, when I was growing up we had steak. My brother, sister and I would say 'steak again?'" Lajoie said.

She stretches her dollars by shopping at food pantries like St. Vincent de Paul. It's a way of life that she's had to get used to. When Lajoie goes shopping, she has several ways of saving money including using coupons, unit pricing, and shopping in the bulk section. 
 
"Only in my adult life did I learn how to handle the budgeting." she said. 

When people think of food stamps, many think of a younger generation. But hunger effects the older generation, too. 

There are around 82,000 people on food stamps in Lane County. The Department of Human Services says around 15% are elderly or disabled. 

Samantha Heath is a resident coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul. Heath said she sees elderly and disabled people walk through their doors everyday.

"At that age, you wouldn't think that they would be in such a need for help or have to ask for a handout. But they do." said Heath.
 
For Lajoie, she never dreamed that she'd be relying on government assistance later in life.

"I'm totally surprised of where I'm at." she said.