During National Older Americans Month, we focus on sharing the stories of those who go unnoticed, seniors struggle with hunger and may lack adequate nutrition. Just as it is necessary for young children to receive proper nutrition, it is also imperative for their grandparents to eat enough healthy foods to remain strong and healthy. Each month we pack and distribute 1,400 food-filled box through Senior Food Box Program in our region. With the help of a generous local donor we are able to provide seniors with healthy produce like zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes and tomatoes along with the box.
With the growing number of people in our region over the age of 60 the needs of our community is changing. More and more seniors are accessing food at a local food pantry and make up 14% of those served. In some parts of our region more than a third of residents will be over 60. Mobility and transportation issues hamper their ability to reach food pantries and is a key reason many of the Senior Food Boxes are distributed right to the places seniors live.
The changing needs in our community are why the food banks continue to count on the support through the state’s biennial budget for both shelf-stable food and produce to ensure low-income seniors have the nutrition they need.
Second Harvest works on addressing the issue of hunger not only from a grass-roots level but as an advocate engaging with our legislators about hunger and setting Ohio’s biennial budget. The twelve Ohio food banks are asking for support of a comprehensive approach to hunger relief by allocating $30M per year of funding within the State’s Biennial Budget. This will allow Ohio to continue to set the standard for addressing food insecurity in the most extensive and focused manner possible. Now is not the time to jeopardize a safety net responsible for helping more families than ever - many of them including children and seniors - and providing them with the most crucial necessity of life: food.
Julie Chase-Morefield is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.
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