Poverty and food insecurity are prevalent in senior populations across America, and can lead to a host of physical and mental health issues. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has made life difficult for almost everyone. However, it is our aging population that experiences the full effects of poverty and food insecurity.
Many of our senior citizens have higher-than-average living costs that include healthcare and medication for chronic illnesses. When combined with a decrease in income due to retirement, many older adults find themselves making tough life choices. In many cases, they must often make decisions between paying their bills and buying enough of the healthy food their vulnerable systems require.
Here’s how you can support the food security of our senior citizens this holiday season and beyond:
Older adults are vulnerable to unexpected expenses as they often do not have enough money saved for emergencies. Unforeseen costs, high living costs, and lower wages due to retirement can mean the difference between eating fresh and processed food, or in certain cases, not eating enough food at all.
Additionally, many low-income senior citizens have no choice but to work to cover all their expenses, leading some to further expose themselves to the virus.
If you’re unable to volunteer or help in person, make a donation to your local food bank. Whether it’s $5 or $500, this money can make a huge difference. Safely preparing and delivering millions of meals for our seniors comes with costs, such as transportation, groceries and meal ingredients, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for those on our front lines. No donation is too small to assist in the efforts to feed our most vulnerable.
Many seniors are housebound right now, as they are among the most likely to suffer from more severe COVID-19 symptoms. They’re even more anxious, depressed, and isolated than us younger folks, unable to visit friends and family due to strict lockdowns and social distancing regulations. They may also not be as mobile as they were pre-pandemic. Simple errands like buying groceries are even more out of reach for them than usual during the pandemic.
Contribute your time or your efforts to your local food bank. With volunteer jobs like food preparation, packaging, and delivery, there’s a task for everyone. Imagine the good you can do by volunteering a few hours each week to deliver meals to their homes or long-term care facilities!
There are many benefits to volunteering for a food bank, like the satisfaction that comes from knowing that your help is saving lives. It also doesn’t take a large commitment of time and effort to volunteer — many volunteers can only do so once per week or once per month. However, with all of our efforts combined, you and millions of other volunteers can feed and support our senior citizens during the most vulnerable time of their lives.
At Second Harvest, we welcome you to join us! If you’re wondering how to get started, visit our website to sign up as a volunteer this holiday season or donate now.