Having Nutritious Meals That Are Easy to Make Takes Away Burden for Indianapolis Woman

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Cooking for one isn’t easy, especially when you’ve spent a lifetime sitting around a big family table passing heaping bowls of green beans, carrots and corn you’ve grown in the garden. Bessie Bell has good memories of those days, growing up the baby of ten siblings. She remembers her dad’s big garden, her mom canning everything she could, and brothers chasing after the chickens they raised at their Indianapolis home.

Bessie has always liked to cook and bake. She did plenty of it raising her children and taking dishes to annual family reunions. After graduating from Crispus Attucks High School, Bessie married Lonnie Bell, childhood sweethearts who grew up only blocks apart. They bought their first home not long after they were married, a tidy bungalow on Indy’s east side, where they raised two children – Estelle and Lonnie Jr. Her husband passed away in 1981. Bessie still lives in the house surrounded by family photos and a collection of dolls her great-grandchildren like to play with. Her daughter’s church built a ramp to help her get up the step to the porch. At 86, she still gets around the help of a walker and a motorized wheelchair.

Home-delivered meals & food she enjoyed growing up

It’s a little harder to cook when your mobility is compromised, she said. About a year ago, Bessie’s sister suggested she call CICOA and see if the nonprofit could bring her meals, so she wouldn’t have to worry about cooking.

“I enjoy cooking for other people,” she said. Cooking for one has become more difficult, so she took her sister’s advice and is glad she did.

Every two weeks CICOA delivers freshly made, frozen meals she can cook in the microwave. She likes that it offers her a variety of healthy foods, like sweet potatoes and chicken, broccoli and carrots—the kinds of food she grew up eating and used to prepare for her own children.

CICOA’s Meals & More was created to provide balanced, nutritious meals for people 60 or older who are homebound and unable to cook.

With support, Bessie can age independently in her home

Bessie knows she’s lucky to have family nearby. She’s not able to get out as much as she used to, but her daughter takes her to St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, where she’s been a member for 80 years. Estelle also helps with the shopping and other things Bessie may need. Her niece comes by to help out, too, and often brings home-cooked meals and other goodies. A home health aid comes in three times a week to help Bessie with personal hygiene and tasks around the house.

Bessie worked 40 years at RCA (now Thomson Consumer Electronics) making televisions, then becoming an inspector and finally retiring as a supervisor. She worked on the first color televisions, saw the invention of VCRs and so much more. Growing up, she and her family listened to The Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers on the radio. She still watches the old shows on her television, where it comes to life, reminding her of growing up on Yandes Street in a big house surrounded by family.

Provide meals for seniors like bessie

One in 12 Hoosier seniors lives with food insecurity—they don’t know what they’ll eat or when they’ll eat their next meal. Consider a monthly gift today to help feed hungry seniors who rely on CICOA for consistent, nutritious meals.

Feed Hungry Seniors


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