You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Aging advocates: Too many Georgia seniors are going hungry


One in six Georgia seniors face the threat of hunger, and that’s too many, say aging advocates who plan to tackle the issue at the first statewide Senior Hunger Summit, to be held at Stone Mountain later this month.

Georgia ranks ninth nationally in senior hunger, and advocates want a comprehensive plan to get the state out of the top 10 ranking.

“This is not a top 10 list we want to be part of,” said Gwenyth Johnson, manager of the Livable Communities Section for the Georgia Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging Services.

This is an all-hands-on-deck task, with legislators, nonprofits, faith community leaders, health providers, grocers and all others interested in ensuring that seniors have enough to eat urged to take part in the planning.

Johnson said participants will talk about the barriers to food access and how to fix the problem, with the goal of putting initiatives in place by 2018.

Food insecurity among seniors is a growing concern nationwide. The number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger increased by 47 percent from 2001 to 2014, according to the State of Senior Hunger in America 2014 report by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger.

Johnson said at the state level, the issue is complex, with food access problems in both rural and urban areas. There are food deserts where healthy produce and other nutritious items are not available. Many rural counties are losing grocery stores, so the only place seniors can purchase food is at a convenience store, Johnson said.

“They can get calories, but not the nutrients that they need,” she said.

Most communities have waiting lists for Meals on Wheels, a home-delivery hot meal service for seniors. The program needs more funding at all levels, said Kathy Floyd, executive director for the Georgia Council on Aging.

“It’s important for us that there be no people on the wait list for meals,” she said.

Floyd also said too few seniors receive food stamps when they qualify for the assistance. It’s a generation where many believe taking government help is shameful. “Some would rather starve than take advantage of it,” she said.

Tracina Green, Senior Program specialist with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, who views the problem from the front ranks, says a lack of transportation and the expense of nutritious foods are primary factors contributing to senior hunger in the metro area and North Georgia.

“Seniors can’t drive, so they have to pay someone to take them to a grocery store. And the produce they should be eating is too expensive. They can’t afford it,” she said.

The nonprofit operates a federal program where older adults are given supplemental nonperishable commodities like rice and peanut butter, and another federal program where they receive two $10 vouchers each month to purchase produce at local farmers markets. The food bank works with partner agencies for food distribution, and seniors can contact help@acfb.org or call 404-892-3333, ext. 2400, to find a food pantry or service agency near them.

In addition, the food bank buys 80,000 pounds of produce each month, which is distributed to 16,000 seniors throughout metro Atlanta and North Georgia. Seniors can get as much of the produce as they’d like.

These seniors are also invited to the food bank twice a month for a cooking demonstration preparing simple recipes from the commodities and produce. Transportation is provided.

“Our goal is to help seniors eat better and get healthy,” Green said.

Through the commodities and the produce programs, the Atlanta Community Food Bank provided 1.7 million meals to seniors during the last fiscal year, Green said.

It’s going to take community initiatives like these to tackle food insecurity, aging advocates say. Johnson said it can be done, if everyone pitches in to help.

“This is something I truly believe we can work on from the community level,” she said. “There is a way for everybody in the state to be part of the solution.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

A garden for special-needs kids grows — and kids mature, too
A garden for special-needs kids grows — and kids mature, too

DAVIE, Fla. — The banana peels come from the pie shop. The carrot pulp comes from the juice bar. Food remnants at Bob Roth’s New River Groves in Davie do not go in the garbage. They head for compost containers out back, 5-gallon paint buckets where scraps are turned into gardening gold by students with autism and other developmental disabilities...
How to be a good neighbor in urban agriculture
How to be a good neighbor in urban agriculture

With the retirement of buggy horses in the city a century ago, the mess, smell and flies suddenly declined. Eventually ordinances were drafted to gradually purge the urban world of farm animals, solving a multitude of problems they caused in high density areas. Today these old ways of thinking are challenged by urban agriculture aficionados who are...
10 tips for affordable nursery design
10 tips for affordable nursery design

Nursery design doesn’t have to break the bank. There are a number of cost-saving and creative ideas to create a nursery that is inviting, warm and friendly. When it comes to creating a nursery on a budget, here are some top Design Recipes tips. 1. Paint. Painting remains one of the most affordable ways to decorate a space. From strips to stencils...
Where can I find it?
Where can I find it?

Readers have been asking about an omelet recipe making the rounds in which the eggs are cooked in plastic bags. They’re not sure what kinds of plastic bags they should buy that are safe to use in cooking. I found some answers that should get them experimenting with the bagged omelet without worries. Of course, if you had a FoodSaver, you could...
The top 5 hotel décor trends and how to bring them back home
The top 5 hotel décor trends and how to bring them back home

Thanks to social media, we’re now able to travel the world with a few scrolls through an Instagram feed — vicariously, of course. And when it comes to styling, luxury resorts and eclectic boutique accommodations have become more than just a place to stay but more of an aspirational lifestyle as a whole. To help incorporate the luxurious...
More Stories