April 17, 2019 – April is Senior Hunger Awareness month. All of us either have a senior in our life or know a senior. And they may be facing food insecurity.

There are multiple actions we can take to help.

Build Community“Food Pantries are a source of health, info, socialization and friendship. Without food pantries people go hungry. Children starved. Elders don’t receive the nutrients they need. Have friendship and caring at your local food pantry!” Grand Ronde Road

We can work to connect people experiencing hunger to healthy locally grown food, to each other and to their hometowns, to political processes and decision making; honoring and activating their strength and resourcefulness and lift up their voices. Health and well-being are possible when people can make meaningful choices about their food and when they have strong personal communities and social safety nets.

Provide Food Assistance“I am 62 years old, work a part time job, and live in a small town of 800+ people. Without the Food Bank, I would run out of food by the third week of the month.  It’s a very important that the food bank helps the community.”  Condon, OR

At Oregon Food Bank, we offer several food assistance programs when costs are too high. These programs help senior’s access fresh food and shelf stables and include the Senior Mobile Pantry, a partnership with Northwest Senior Disability Services, local senior housing facilities and Meals for seniors in Rockaway beach.

Through our concerted efforts to bring hunger and health together, we’ve screened over 1 million Oregonians, including seniors, for food insecurity and connected them to key nutrition resources, including SNAP (or food stamps), through health care providers and community-based partners.

Support Federal Nutrition Programs – In the fight against hunger across the United States, SNAP plays a critical role in improving the health, nutrition, and well-being of millions of older adults (age 60 plus) and generates economic activity in almost every community. However, many older adults in Oregon who struggle against hunger are missing out on this critical resource. SNAP helps low-income seniors afford the food they need for their health and well-being. In Oregon, 7.9% of seniors face food insecurity. And while 62% of eligible seniors are accessing SNAP, the number is still too low. (Food Research & Action Center and the AARP Foundation)

In addition to staving off hunger, SNAP helps decrease the hunger-related health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, and depression. Having reliable access to enough food is important for everyone, but it is particularly important as people age and become more vulnerable to illness, or when their life circumstances — such as limited mobility or a fixed income — make maintaining a healthy diet more difficult.

More than 260,000 Oregonians rely on the Oregon Food Bank Network every month to help them have enough to eat, but for every meal we provide to someone in need, SNAP provides 12.

The choice for seniors shouldn’t have to be between paying for food or medication or rent. You can help a senior in your life by supporting the Oregon Food Bank Network. There is one thing you can do right now – tell the legislature to fully fund the Oregon Hunger Response Fund so that we can continue to support all members of our community, including seniors.

Contact your legislator