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Community Perspective - Julian Emerson

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As the only food bank in west central Wisconsin, Feed My People distributes 150,000+ pounds of food a week and 7.5 million pounds a year to local agencies. We are a cost effective way to provide pantries, community tables, and shelters enough food so thousands of people can be helped each month.

Senior Hunger: A Serious Problem in Our Community

Romelda went 52 years without taking so much as an aspirin. At 82, however, her health isn’t what it used to be. Her years of hard work are finally taking their toll. Romelda worked full time until age 75, when an accident crushed nine vertebrae and left her unable to continue. Since then, Romelda has suffered from health complications that often come with age. She was recently hospitalized for a heart condition, and is currently recovering from cataract surgery. When fully recovered, she hopes to be able to work as she can – she’s been helping out at a local daycare.

Romelda has worked hard her entire life; nevertheless, she’s forced to rely on fixed social security benefits to pay the bills – including her many medical expenses. When they are paid, she barely has enough left over to buy groceries. She spends only $7 to $10 on them each week. Thankfully, Romelda is able to use her local food pantry.

After a lifetime of contributing to society, many seniors like Romelda are living on fixed incomes that often force them to choose between paying for healthcare or prescriptions and buying groceries.

Although food insecurity—at times not having access to enough food for an active or healthy life—affects people of all ages, seniors are particularly vulnerable because they have unique nutritional needs related to aging and/or medical conditions and often have limited income and out-of-pocket medical expenses. Because seniors often need the medication to maintain their health, many elderly Americans must forgo the foods they need to stay healthy.

According to the study Hunger in America 2010, 30 percent of seniors who rely on our local food pantries for help report that they have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. Among food pantry clients 65 and older, more than half reported visiting a pantry on a monthly basis, the highest of any age group.

With widespread community support, Feed My People is working to ensure that seniors in need are provided with nutritious food. Together, we can provide hope to seniors and families struggling with hunger.