Recognizing and Supporting Seniors during Older Americans Month
‘Get into the Act’
In May, the nation will be celebrating Older Americans Month to recognize seniors’ contributions and provide them with resources to stay healthy and active. Older adults are a vital part of our society. Since 1963, communities across the country have shown their gratitude by celebrating Older Americans Month each May. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Get into the Act,” to focus on how seniors are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.
Throughout the country, older Americans face a number of unique challenges that contribute to food insecurity. Many seniors are living on fixed incomes that often force them to choose between paying for healthcare or prescriptions and buying groceries. Although food insecurity affects people of all ages, seniors are particularly vulnerable because they have unique nutritional needs related to aging and/or medical conditions.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, currently only a quarter of the state’s residents age 60 or older eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Many factors go into maintaining a healthy diet, and clearly access to affordable and nutritious choices is paramount. In addition, shopping and meal preparation may become more difficult with age, and the lack of socialization and support may reduce their desire to eat.
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is committed to providing seniors throughout our region with the food they need to stay healthy and active.
Since 1983, The Food Bank has been delivering free bags of healthy groceries to thousands of low-income elders through our Brown Bag: Food For Elders program. Last year alone, the program served 8,551 seniors throughout our region, at 45 distribution sites. We provide nutritious groceries that enable elders to make easy meals and eat a balanced diet.
The Food Bank’s Mobile Food Bank reaches the underserved populations throughout Western Massachusetts that don’t otherwise have access to fresh, healthy foods. Last year, more than 5,000 seniors were served across the ten distribution locations.
The Food Bank’s SNAP Outreach team provides application assistance to individuals in our region in need of a boost to their food budget. Last year, they helped 428 seniors apply for benefits, which was approximately 1/3 of all clients.
You can take action and help this most vulnerable population. There are many volunteer opportunities within our Brown Bag, Mobile Food Bank, and SNAP Outreach programs. By attending The Food Bank’s next volunteer orientation on May 12, 2015, families can learn how to support our efforts to feed our neighbors in need.
Your entire family can take the first steps towards supporting your community, and find out just how much fun volunteering can be. The Food Bank and Hilltown Families are holding a special Pot-Luck Breakfast Family Volunteer Day at our Hatfield facility on Saturday, May 9 from 9 – 11:30 a.m. Bring a favorite dish to share. You will have the opportunity to learn about hunger in our region, as well as helping to prepare food to be distributed to pantries and meal sites across Western Massachusetts.
To learn more about this event and how your family can participate, click here to register your family for this free community service opportunity, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Wojcik is the Marketing & Communications Manager at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is committed to feeding our neighbors in need and leading the community to end hunger. Founded in 1982, The Food Bank is the leading provider of emergency food that reaches individuals and families in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. From their warehouse in Hatfield, they distribute food to their member agencies (which include food pantries, meal sites and shelters) throughout the region. They continue to build a stronger community through a variety of initiatives, including our Mobile Food Bank, SNAP outreach, nutrition education, and our Brown Bag: Food for Elders program.