One of my favorite things about Easter is getting together with my crazy loveable Italian family-- aunts, uncles and my Nana (who is turning 90 this year!) to make our traditional “Easter Pie” as we call it, a pie made from scratch with about a dozen eggs, several cheeses, meats and most importantly, lots of love.
No matter what your family’s Easter or Passover traditions are, holidays often remind us what matters most and how grateful we are for our family and friends.
Food is often the focal point of family gatherings—whether it be that special staple meal you create together or a celebratory cake—but now that I work as an advocate for older adult hunger, food or the lack of it, takes on a new meaning for me.
You may not know this but nearly 9 million older Americans are at risk of hunger. In New York, over 10% of people 50+ live below the poverty line and more than 7% are at risk of hunger. Additionally, from 2007 to 2009, there was an increase of almost 40% in the number of Americans ages 50-59 at risk of hunger.
I’m frequently reminded of the Maya Angelou quote, “When you know better, you do better.” Older adult hunger is something that often goes unnoticed. But it’s very real and each of us has a role to play in helping others. Not everyone is surrounded by family during the holidays; not every senior has an advocate and support network. That’s where we come in.
Concerned that someone you love may need help?
Senior hunger is often much less apparent because seniors are a lot less likely to ask for help. You need to ask the right questions. This holiday season, sit down with your loved ones, have a look around their cabinets, ask questions about their food budget, be sensitive to what they are saying, keep your eyes open to what they may not be saying.
How to apply for SNAP?
Nutrition Outreach and Education Program sites are all over New York State. There, your loved ones can get free and confidential information and services about nutrition assistance. Only half of eligible older New Yorkers receive SNAP. For seniors who are struggling to make ends meet, SNAP could boost their food budget so that other important expenses like utility bills or prescriptions drugs aren’t neglected.
Want to give back to your community?
Check out sites like AARP’s Create The Good or New York Cares to find a variety of hunger volunteer opportunities nearby. Commitments range from one day only, weekly, monthly… whatever you can do.