Mobile food pantry for senior citizens
By Sammy O’Brien
The Athens Community Council on Aging was one of four organizations honored with a service grant by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
The grant offers technology and research aid to the ACCA to help solve the senior hunger and food waste issue, simultaneously. The grant will help the cafeteria asses the senior’s hunger needs, as well as what food goes to waste – but a mobile food pantry service has already been helping cure the problem in Athens for years.
On the third Wednesday, every other month, Haley McCalla and a group of volunteers gather at the ACCA to help distribute 10,000 pounds of food to hungry seniors in the community. McCalla, Senior Hunger Americorp Vista at ACCA, says they put together nearly 220 bags of food to improve over 450 Athenians lives.
“I know that there’s so many people expecting this bag and this food will definitely improve their nutrition,” McCalla said.
Some older adults take the food home after their day spent at the ACCA, while other bags are delivered to specific homes to help hungry seniors associated with ACCA and some of their families.
In July, the National Food Bank recently switched from just packaged goods to adding in fresher foods such as corn, potatoes, apples and eggs to create healthier options for seniors.
“I think that it’s amazing that the food bank decided to change what they send us out and give us more fresh foods and stuff instead of just packaged stuff,” said McCalla.
NFESH has done research which shows one in six seniors are threatened by hunger, and more than 9 million older adults don’t have enough to eat. The health risks of hungry seniors are serious and include:
- 50% more likely to be diabetic
- 3 times more likely to suffer from depression
- 60 % more at risk heart failure
McCalla and the ACCA are excited about the grant and what it will do for the senior community in Athens – but will continue helping hungry seniors with the mobile food pantry.
“I absolutely love this work because the good feeling that I get from working with these volunteers and helping these clients – it’s tangible,” said McCalla.