Hunger Hides Where Older Adults Reside
Once a month, 75-year-old Sandra visits Southern Anoka County Assistance (SACA) to pick up a box of food. The box may include canned fruits, vegetables and juices, cheese, peanut butter or dried beans, rice and pasta. The Fridley, Minn., resident relies on the food she receives to live.
“What I use helps a lot, especially the cheese and oatmeal,” she said. “I’m very health-conscious. I eat oatmeal every day.”
Without the food shelf, Sandra fears she might not be able to feed her beloved Mandy—the big yellow Labrador that is her one—and only—companion. Sandra has been disabled since 1997, when cancer damaged her right leg.
SACA, located in Columbia Heights, Minn., has been serving the community for more than 40 years and is an important source of food for seniors like Sandra.
The box Sandra receives each month comes from Second Harvest Heartland through the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors (NAPS), part of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), a federally funded food resource for older Americans. There are 14,000 Minnesota seniors who participate in NAPS. Of those, Second Harvest Heartland serves approximately 9,500.
Reaching Vulnerable Seniors
Second Harvest Heartland and its partners reduce the gaps in nutrition services for older Americans by connecting them to programs like NAPS and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
Seniors, like children, are especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of poor nutrition. They are more likely to have chronic health conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure and depression.
“Every day, 10,000 people in the U.S. become seniors,” said Pat Pearson, Director of Agency Relations at Second Harvest Heartland. “Many seniors aren’t aware these programs exist or assume they don’t qualify.
Pearson and her team are working hard to uncover hunger and increase participation through targeted outreach at senior housing facilities, community centers and NAPS sites.
The holidays are an especially hard time for older adults like Sandra, and many of our agency partners see an increased need during the coming time of year.
Second Harvest Heartland provides, on average, more than 70 percent of all food distributed by its agency partners. That means if we’re not there for our agency partners, they can’t help feed their community. Your gift can help us continue our work and make sure no family, older adult or child goes unfed this holiday season.