During the month of May, we celebrate Older American’s Month. In the United States, 1 in 12 seniors struggle with hunger and don’t have the nutrition they need to stay in good health. Just as it’s necessary for young children to receive proper nutrition, it’s also imperative seniors eat enough healthy foods to remain strong and healthy. In our region, over 10,000 seniors struggle with hunger and receive help through our network of food pantries, hot meal programs, Senior Box Program and Farmer’s Markets. We are always looking for opportunities to reach more seniors in need.
The 2018 Map the Meal Gap numbers have been released and we see steady numbers for our region. The most telling numbers are those in all categories that show the percentage of food insecure people who are not eligible for help other than through food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. These people fall in the 130%-200% of the poverty guidelines and are just under half of those who are food insecure in our region. To access the data and interactive map, click here. With future cuts to SNAP and Farm bill changes in the greater conversation, we could be facing a major surge in those having nowhere else to turn but to our network of partner charities. We urge everyone to follow the conversation and urge our lawmakers to preserve those safety nets that are in place.
Just as the warmer weather and sunshine give all of us hope and encouragement for better days ahead, we too feel excited and grateful for the great support we continue to receive from organizations who offer help and support. This month the US Postal Service collected donations on their mail route for their Stamp Out Hunger campaign, Walgreen’s Red Nose Day will be on May 24th to promote awareness and action to fight childhood poverty issues and the Lorain County Corporate Challenge games have begun. These are all great ways for you to learn more about the issue of hunger, take action to really make a difference and have some fun at the same time. If you would like to learn more about any of these campaigns, give us a call. You might want to consider planning for summer volunteering either here, at Second Harvest, or at a Farmer’s Market distribution.
Spring is a hopeful time and a good time to join us in putting a dent in hunger.
Julie Chase-Morefield is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.