Arkansas continues to be one of worst states in the nation for senior hunger (60+). We know that seniors between the ages of 60 – 65, supporting a grandchild, are African-American or Hispanic, and living in a southern state are more likely to experience food insecurity than their peers. Many of these individuals often lack transportation to food pantries or grocery stores; their communities lack access to fresh produce and other healthy options; or they are homebound and unable to provide for themselves on a regular basis. As a result, seniors employ multiple coping strategies to combat food insecurity such as purchasing cheaper unhealthy foods, watering down food or drinks, and even selling personal possessions to make ends meet.
Older Arkansans who experience food insecurity can face severe health concerns. According to the Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans, seniors who are food insecure compared to peers are 40-60% more likely to experience depression, heart attack, asthma and congestive heart failure versus their peers who are food secure. Whether chronic or acute in its nature, food insecurity poses real threats to some of our most vulnerable members of society. Fortunately, the Arkansas Foodbank is working to reach older Arkansans and ultimately improve food security among them.
Arkansas Foodbank served nearly 34,000 seniors in 2016 year through direct service, partner agencies and community partnerships, but more progress is needed to reach the estimated 73,000 seniors facing food insecurity in our 33-county service area.
The Foodbank seeks to expand its services through new partnerships, strengthen current programs and identify new opportunities to address root causes of hunger. Because many seniors in need often live on fixed-incomes, lack reliable transportation, or reside in difficult to access rural communities, we want to expand our community partnerships to places where seniors must already frequent like health clinics and community senior centers. This type of “single stop” partnership is a more efficient use of time and resources and will help to identify more underserved seniors. By combining your investment with our knowledge, skills and abilities, together we can ensure more nutritious food reaches those in need, providing dignity, hope and a brighter future for all Arkansans.
Nutrition Tidbits, Arkansas Foodbank Senior Newsletter, gives health recommendations, recipes, and budget friendly nutrition information and tips for Arkansas grown produce. Distributed monthly, this is our primary contact to provide simple and practical messages that promote positive dietary behaviors and needs for seniors.