elder hunger

Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland

The job losses and months of virtual learning when children didn’t get school meals during the pandemic created a hunger crisis for many Kentucky families.

Now, the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the Bluegrass State and the decline in cases of the virus has eased the hunger crisis as some parts of life become closer to normal. 

Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland is continuing its regular food distribution to about 1,000 households at Lampkin Park in Warren County once a month. 

But with many children returning to in-person learning at school, and getting some of their meals there, Feeding America has combined two emergency distributions in Warren County into one monthly location. 

Denise McDonald

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many elderly Kentucky residents from getting meals at senior centers, or picking up nutritious items at food banks.

A south-central Kentucky benevolent organization is delivering food to seniors who can’t get out.

Logan County Good Samaritan has ongoing programs to provide food and assistance with utility bills to county residents. 

But for the past year, since COVID-19 has kept many elderly residents isolated, Good Samaritan has been delivering what's known as "senior boxes" to those 60 and older who haven’t been able to come pick up the food.

Harli Marten/Unsplash

A new study found that Kentucky is the worst state in the nation to retire. The study by the personal finance website WalletHub is based on factors including affordability, health care, and overall quality of life. 

The survey also ranked states on whether they have an elder-friendly labor market, because many older adults continue to work at least part-time to make ends meet.   

Kentucky’s rank of 48 in health care, and 46 in quality of life, helped drag it to the bottom of the list.

Rhonda J. Miller

A health care organization in Henderson, Kentucky is reviving a tradition likely to make many people feel better, not just in theory, but in actual medical terms.

Methodist Health has a nurse practitioner who makes house calls to treat patients in rural communities. 

Dogs don’t usually announce the start of a medical appointment, but barking dogs on the front porch are a typical greeting for Nurse Practitioner Crystal Buchanan when she makes a house call to see Susan Turner in the Henderson County community of Cairo. 

"Susan, how are ya?” Buchanan asks as she opens the front door. 

Rhonda J. Miller

A federal program to keep older adults in the workforce is struggling to find more businesses in the Owensboro region willing to hire these elders after they upgrade their skills.

In the first of a two-part series, WKU Public Radio looks at efforts to expand the the regional Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), and how one 74-year-old who particpated in the program is thriving in her new job.

Dee Padgett has been in her job as office manager at United Way of the Coalfield in Madisonville since September. 

Kentucky Dept. for Aging and Independent Living

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.”

Jason Crandall

A program created in Kentucky that’s been shown to encourage mild exercise and social interaction among the elderly has been awarded a $503,800 grant. The funding provides the latest expansion of the 'Bingocize' program that will take it into 40 nursing homes across Tennessee. 

Western Kentucky University Associate Professor of Exercise Science Jason Crandall created the program in 2011 while he was on the faculty of Kentucky Wesleyen College in Owensboro. It combines bingo with short intermissions of stretching and other simple exercises. 

Crandall and the WKU Center for Applied Science in Health and Aging, or CASHA, were awarded Civil Monetary Penalty reinvestment funds by the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  

Webster County

The new Webster County Senior Center opens June 19 and will offer expanded services to elders in the community.

The new senior center in the town of Dixon is housed in the buildling previously used by the county ambulance service.

The completely renovated facility now includes a kitchen, community meeting rooms, exercise areas and space for crafts and other activities.

"This will be a chance for our county to show appreciation for those residents who have spent their lives making Webster County the place it is today, " said Judge Executive Steve Henry.

Rhonda J. Miller

Many older Americans face an issue that’s often kept behind closed doors: hunger.

A new report called The State of Senior Hunger in America shows that eight percent of Kentucky residents age 60 and older are food insecure. Community organizations in Russellville and Bardstown are among many groups helping older adults get enough healthy food.

At the Russellville Senior Center director Christie Lashley called folks to head to the serving table to pick up a tray with a hot lunch.

“All righty, we have Mr. Martin and we have Miss Barbara, Miss Nancy, go get your food….,” said Lashley.

Servers spooned out a plate of barbequed chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes to Tom Martin.