Kentucky will hold its first ‘Senior Hunger Summit’ on Oct. 30, in Frankfort. State and local leaders say it’s time to confront hunger and related health issues facing older residents.
Kentucky ranks 50th in the nation in preventable hospitalizations, according to the United Health Foundation’s 2019 Senior Report.
Shannon Gadd, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living, said access to nutritious food on a regular basis is key in preventing hospitalizations and addressing other health problems facing seniors.
“I think people just are unaware of the issues: fixed incomes, higher cost of food, higher cost of medicine, lack of transportation," said Gadd. "One of the things we want to hammer home with the hunger summit is that we have a problem, but also we have solutions.”
Gadd said addressing food insecurity among seniors has to be made a priority among state and community leaders.
The Bluegrass State has earned another low ranking that affects the health of older reisdents. Kentucky is 46th in the nation for the number of home-delivered meals for seniors. Gadd said Kentucky can do better despite its rural geography.
“North Dakota has the lowest rate of food insecurity. Wyoming is number one in home-delivered meals," said Gadd. "So I think it’s time that we take a really good look at what our priorities are and stop using the rural landscape as an excuse.”
Gadd said the social structure surrounding senior citizens is changing all across the U.S., including in Kentucky. Family members sometimes relocate for education or jobs, and intergenerational households are not as common as they once were.
She said many programs and community groups provide meals for seniors, but efforts need to be coordinated and prioritized statewide.
The day-long Kentucky Senior Health Summit will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Buck Run Baptist Church at 1950 Leestown Road in Frankfort.
Agenda for Kentucky Senior Hunger Summit
9:00-9:15 Welcome and Overview
Ryan Quarles, Commissioner Department of Agriculture
Adam Meier, Secretary, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Shannon Gadd, Commissioner Department for Aging and Independent Living
Doug Hogan, Director of Internal Communications & Employee Engagement
9:15-10:00 Enid Borden, Keynote Speaker, Founder and CEO National Foundation to End Senior Hunger
10:00-10:45 Dr. James Ziliak Founding Director, Center for Poverty Research, University of Kentucky
11:00-11:45 Owensboro Medical System Food Waste Program
Debbie Johnson, Director Community Engagement Owensboro Health
Dana Peveler, Executive Director Senior Center of Owensboro
Jennifer Williams, Director Green River Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living
11:45-1:00 Lunch, Guided Table Discussions from 12:30-1:00
1:00-1:45 Campus Dining Program, Teresa Cook, Ohio District 5 Vice President of Marketing and Development
1:45-2:45 Panel Discussion:
Moderator: Tamara Sandberg, Executive Director - Feeding Kentucky
Danielle Pierce Bozarth, Programs and Partner Services Director - God’s Pantry Food Bank
Jennifer Garland, Social Worker - Lexington Senior Center
Trish Rayner, Vice President of External Affairs - Freestore Foodbank
Brian Riendeau, Executive Director - Dare to Care Food Bank
2:45- 3:30 Program Spotlights
3:30-4:00 Next steps, Closing