Grand Rapids Food Shelf Works to Prevent Hunger Among Seniors
Nearly five million senior citizens currently face hunger in the United States. After a lifetime of hard work, households with older adults (aged 50 and above) find themselves facing an impossible choice — to buy groceries or seek medical care. As the baby-boom generation ages, the number of seniors facing hunger is only expected to increase. Second Harvest is working hard to prevent this. “Seniors are often more hesitant to ask for help, but when they do, we are here for them,” said Trisha Zimmerman, Development and Marketing Manager for Second Harvest North Central Food Bank. Serving more than 200 seniors every month, the food shelf at Second Harvest is able to provide senior residents of Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities with healthy and nutritious food options such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and other perishables each time they visit. Open five days a week, it is easy for seniors to access the food shelf with only the completion of a short eligibility form. For seniors who are unable to drive or are homebound, Second Harvest also allows proxies to pick-up food on their behalf. “Allowing proxies to pick-up food may be the difference between a senior going hungry or having enough food to get by,” said Zimmerman. “If a senior is willing to arrange a proxy, we are willing to work with them to make sure they get the food they need.”
In addition to the food shelf, qualifying older Minnesota adults can receive a free supplemental food package every month through the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors (NAPS). Each package includes a nutritious balance of shelf-stable foods, plus reduced fat cheese. Throughout North Central Minnesota, Second Harvest provides 1,500 seniors with NAPS Boxes each month. Locally, Second Harvest distributes 214 NAPS Boxes each month from their on-site food shelf.