DC Hunger Solutions joins with AARP DC Volunteers, the Greater Washington Urban League, and AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly to fight senior hunger
Senior hunger in Washington D.C. is real and it is growing. 10% of District seniors, regardless of their income level, were worried about food running out sometime in the last twelve months. Approximately 14.5 percent of the Districtís 94,400 adults aged 60 and over lived below the federal poverty line in 2009.
D.C. Hunger Solutions is working with AARP DC volunteers and the Greater Washington Urban League to delve deeper into senior hunger issues and connect eligible seniors to the SNAP/Food Stamp program.
On Thursday, June 28th, D.C. Hunger Solutions held a SNAP/Food Stamp training for more than 20 AARP DC volunteers as part of a partnership through AARPís Drive to End Hunger. Volunteers learned about the food resources available for those 60 and over in D.C. and how to connect older residents to federal nutrition programs such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides a monthly box of groceries valued at $50, and the Congregate Meals program, which provides hot meals and social activities at senior wellness centers and housing facilities across the city. Training attendees also learned about the rate of under participation in SNAP among D.C. seniors and the need to connect more D.C. seniors with this nutrition program. While 10,000 seniors receive SNAP in D.C., 14,000 seniors live below the poverty line, which means that thousands of those who are income-eligible for SNAP are not participating. Yet, contrary to the perception that seniors will receive only $16 a month, the average SNAP benefit for seniors living alone is $119 a month. The group discussed these and other barriers to applying for SNAP for the older population, and brainstormed ways to counter these myths during their outreach in the community.
Training attendees spanned a wide range of backgrounds from community advocates to former human services agency staff. Many said they came to the training because they realized those within their communities were making the choice between medicine and food and they wanted to be involved in solutions to the problem of hunger. "You can't give enough when it comes to feeding people and food," said one AARP volunteer.
In early July, AARP DC and AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly volunteers surveyed Commodity Supplemental Food Program participants at the Greater Washington Urban League, which operates the program in D.C. Volunteers also provided information about SNAP to interested clients. In August, they will work with D.C. Hunger Solutions and staff from AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly to help fill out SNAP/Food Stamp applications for interested Commodity Supplemental Food Program participants. Volunteers can also work with D.C. Hunger Solutions to provide information at senior centers, housing complexes, and other community-based organizations across the district.
D.C. Hunger Solutions thanks AARP DC, Greater Washington Urban League, and AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly for their partnership and looks forward to cultivating a great volunteer base with AARP and their Drive to End Hunger in the District.