Throughout the nation, food insecurity is a growing problem, and seniors are greatly impacted. In a recently released report, Feeding America – (of which the St. Louis Area Food Bank, who sends monthly pallets of fresh produce to Guardian Angel via its Mobile Market program, is a member) – revealed that 5.5 million seniors were food insecure in 2017. Since then, this issue has continued to grow. In a recent NPR article, another one of our partners, Operation Food Search, acknowledged through their CEO, Meredith Knopp that seniors are among the “too many” St. Louisans going hungry.
Though it’s a major issue to tackle, we’re committed to helping to put an end to senior food insecurity in St. Louis. Here are three ways we’re doing it:
Providing options that allow for healthy choices…
Our client choice food pantry allows partners to shop for the specific foods they need, which is significant because it allows for a flexible, diverse diet. Unlike traditional pantries, which may be handing out the same types of often-processed food, partners have the ability to select a variety of fresh, high-quality meats and produce that help them adhere to any diet restrictions and better manage diseases of poverty such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and congestive heart disease.
Making partners aware of the benefits available to them…
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP and commonly referred to as “food stamps,” is one that is heavily relied upon by the nation’s most vulnerable – mostly children, individuals with disabilities, and seniors. Despite this, there are as many as 5.2 million seniors who don’t participate in this program, despite qualifying for its benefits, due to things like stigmas, misinformation about how SNAP works, and limited mobility and access. Moreover, big changes to the way SNAP eligibility is determined this year, add to the mounting list of challenges that prevent some low-income seniors’ ability to join this program. At Guardian Angel, we frequently teach our food pantry partners about SNAP, making sure they are registered for the program if eligible, are aware of how their “SNAP dollars” work, and know how they’ll be affected (i.e. in the event of a government shutdown).
Offering tools and information that make life easier…
In addition to providing access to critical information about the SNAP benefits they qualify for, another major way we help reduce food insecurity for seniors in South St. Louis is by giving them concrete tools and strategies on how to make the most of the food they do have. Partners are encouraged to stock up on non-perishable items, and taught things like ‘batch cooking’ methods, how to be creative with pantry items, and how to conserve food for as long as possible in the freezer, to prevent waste.
Despite the pervasiveness of this issue, and the many factors that perpetuate it, our resources, guidance and thoughtful donations from our supporters help minimize food insecurity for seniors in South St. Louis.
To continue supporting our food pantry and, in turn, the many seniors who rely on us to get their meals, please contact Stephanie Betts (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (314) 773.9027.