Nearly 100 volunteers will fan out across the Green River area of Kentucky on Oct. 22 to deliver bags of groceries to more than 500 low-income seniors.
The program is called ‘Feed Seniors Now’ and it’s coordinated by the Green River Area Development District, or GRADD.
This is the eighth year of the project. Volunteers pack and deliver bags with canned fruits and vegetables, breakfast items, pasta, tuna, peanut butter and other nonperishable items.
On delivery morning volunteers add a quarter-size ham and hot dogs donated by Kentucky Legend.
Jennifer Williams is associate director for aging and social services for GRADD. She said last year the program delivered food to 504 seniors, and this year that number is up to 545.
“We have seen a definite increase in the number of folks who have called asking to receive the groceries," said Williams. "I think this year the young lady who takes our referrals said that we had like 100 people the first day. So I think, unfortunately, we do still have a lot of food insecurity out there.”
Volunteers will deliver the groceries to residents in Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio and Webster counties.
Williams said food insecurity is a larger problem than many people realize.
“I think it pretty much has gotten to epidemic proportions, unfortunately," said Williams. "We’ve got a lot of folks who are trying to decide whether they can eat or if they can buy their medicine or pay their rent or whatever it might be.”
GRADD In-Home Services Manager Amber Phelps said, "While the food drive provides temporary relief for the recipients, it is our hope that by continuing the annual food drive, indidividuals will beocme more aware of the issue of food insecurity among seniors. With greater awareness, there can be more collaboration for a long-term solution."
Other partners in 'Feed Seniors Now' include Independence Bank, Canteen catering and Comfort Keepers. Local grocery stores also participated by serving as food collection sites.
The report The State of Senior Hunger in America shows that eight percent of Kentucky residents age 60 and older, that's about 82,000 senior citizens, are food insecure. They’re among five million elders across the nation who don’t have a dependable supply of healthy food.