Wrapping up AARP Foundation’s 2017 Summer of Service to Seniors, volunteers on the National Mall are packing up the last of 1.5 million meals as part of a two-day Meal Pack Challenge.
The work at the September 11th event, along with meals for seniors already packed at events in Memphis, Denver and St. Paul in recent months, means 3 million meals will have been packed by Summer of Service to Seniors volunteers.
"Even though senior hunger exists in every community across the country, it's one of America's best-kept secrets. Senior hunger is hidden hunger, and hunger is a health issue," said AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson.
"By expanding our Summer of Service to Seniors to four cities, we're calling attention to the fact that too many low-income older adults have to choose between buying groceries and using that money for other essentials, like medicine. The negative impact on well-being is enormous," Ryerson said.
More than 1 million meals had been packed on the Mall by midday Monday, and organizers said they were on target to meet the 1.5 million meal goal by the end of the day.
Data from the 2012 Current Population Survey and the 2010 census show that more than 10 million Americans age 50 or older struggle every day with limited or inadequate access to affordable, nutritious food. AARP Foundation is bringing together nonprofit, government and corporate stakeholders in the food and health sectors to reform the food supply system by creating solutions to fight food insecurity and hunger.
A survey funded by the foundation this year shows a disconnect between how respondents save money on groceries and the realities faced by those with food insecurity:
- Roughly 65 percent of respondents purchased store-brand (generic) items to save money, while many low-income older adults live in identified "food deserts" and may not have access to generic items.
- Over half of respondents shopped at multiple grocery stores to find the best deal. By contrast, low-income older adults with mobility issues or who lack transportation, or who live in areas with only one grocery store, are unable to take advantage of comparison shopping in this way.
Meal-packing events during the Summer of Service to Seniors are part of AARP Foundation's larger effort to increase economic opportunities and social connections that help prevent and reduce senior poverty. Visit AARP Foundation for volunteer opportunities near you.