I am active in The Junior League of Sarasota, where our fundraising focus for the past several years has been our Hunger Outreach Initiative. The Hunger Outreach Committee’s main goal is to help to reduce hunger, raise awareness of hunger in Sarasota and give back in a unique way to the community. The League has accomplished this effort through their successful Slow Cooker Program, where they teach classes, typically to young families, on how to cook a nutritious, affordable meal using a slow cooker.
At the end of each class, the participants leave not only with a brand new slow cooker of their own, but also a JLS cookbook of slow cooker recipes and all the ingredients needed to make the entree they learned at the class that evening. This is accomplished through a partnership with All Faith Food Banks and their Cooking Matters Program. Mart has volunteered with All Faith’s before and even taught Cooking Matters classes. He always came home excited at the opportunity of teaching school-aged children how to make their way around the kitchen. I am so proud of the Junior League of Sarasota’s efforts and all those great volunteers at All Faiths Food Bank.
Recently I was contacted by The National Council for Aging Care, specifically by Carolina Gerard, an intern in their Aging In Place program. This smart young lady had read our blog and wondered . . . Could your readers help spread the message that too many of our nation’s seniors are going hungry?
I stopped and thought about that. I have a dear friend who was ill recently, and though she has the funds to take care of herself, she felt she had no one to call when she was too ill to get herself to the doctors. Instead, she laid in bed, barely eating and becoming dehydrated. She lost a remarkable amount of weight in a short time and ended up in the emergency room. Even though she is better now, she’s still quite frail, and Mart and I constantly check on her now, always asking if she’d like us to drop something by from the market or a nearby restaurant. Sometimes we bring treats, even if she says she is okay. Those treats, be it fruit, soup or sweets, are always gone by the next time we stop by.
Having seen her story, it made me wonder how many elderly people in our area are food insecure just because they need help to get to the grocery store or the bank, and instead of asking for help, they sit at home alone, eating whatever is available, even if it’s not nutritional, or just going hungry? It is so easy for an elderly person to become food insecure when they don’t have access to nutritious food. Essentially, that means they aren’t receiving and/or don’t have access to the necessary foods and nutrients to help sustain their life. This isn’t just the poor. 50% of Seniors who become food insecure live above the poverty line. Yikes!
Would I be willing to spread the word that Carolina asked me about?
Please click on the link below to learn more about senior hunger in America. And put those thinking caps on! How can you help our elderly friends and neighbors overcome food insecurity? Maybe an invitation for lunch, or dropping by with an extra serving of a home cooked meal you think they’d enjoy. Or maybe you could bring them a slow cooker and start a neighborhood cooking club with some of their friends? Maybe even ask them to teach you how to cook, and leave them with food to put in their freezer? The answers are out there!
And remember . . . in the case of my friend, it wasn’t that she needed funds in order to eat better . . . it was as simple as help getting to the store!