Golden Years? Golden Rule. Senior Hunger in Western Maryland | Maryland Food Bank
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Golden Years? Golden Rule. Senior Hunger in Western Maryland

January 3, 2019

While seniors face health challenges due to advanced age, many conditions are easily intensified by poor nutrition. Thankfully, seniors have people like you, dedicated Marylanders who are willing to step up and personify the golden rule for neighbors who should be enjoying their golden years. When you support our efforts to bring Pantry on the Go events to places like Brunswick House, you help lessen the effect these issues have on seniors.

Seventy-five-year-old Ann calls Frederick County’s Brunswick House home. She is one of a number of food-insecure residents in the predominantly senior community who eagerly anticipates the delivery of fresh produce, staple goods, meats, and other healthy foods from the Maryland Food Bank.

“I don’t know who I would turn to if this food wasn’t available,“ Ann said. “This lets me be on my own.”

Senior Hunger in one of the Wealthiest States

It’s almost unthinkable that in one of the wealthiest states in the country, 1 in 20 seniors worry about where their next meal will come from, instead of enjoying retirement. And the problem is growing.

The number of Marylanders over age 60 is expected to grow nearly 40 percent by 2030, with the largest increases expected in Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Howard, and Somerset counties.

This means that more and more seniors will rely on the food assistance safety net, making programs like Pantry on the Go more important than ever. In the case of Brunswick House, Pantry on the Go was a literal lifeline for its residents.

“For about a four-year period, we were in a food desert,” said Kathy Geisbert, who coordinates the monthly food distribution events at Brunswick House. “We didn’t have a single grocery store in Brunswick and had to travel to Frederick or Charles Town, which is not easy for many of the residents.”

Fighting Senior Hunger Where it Hits Hardest

With your support, we’re able to help seniors by bringing large quantities of healthy food right to them, removing a huge barrier to food access for people in need.

woman standing at tables with canned food

“It’s a blessing to have food available to us right here in our lobby,” said Brenda, another Brunswick House resident, with a big smile. “Because of my bad back, I can’t work and I’m on daily medication, which is expensive.”

Even with access to Pantry on the Go and other food assistance programs like SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps), some seniors like Brenda still find themselves struggling. “There are times where I have to make a peanut butter sandwich last all day — sometimes that’s my only source of protein.”

How Senior Hunger Affects Seniors’ Health

While seniors face health challenges due to advanced age, many conditions are easily intensified by poor nutrition. According to Maryland Hunger Solutions, food-insecure seniors like Brenda are:

  • Five times more likely to experience depression
  • 27% less likely to be in excellent or good health
  • Twice as likely to be diabetic
  • More likely to be disabled, have extended hospital stays, and have a decreased resistance to infection

Thankfully, seniors have people like you, dedicated Marylanders who are willing to step up and personify the golden rule for neighbors who should be enjoying their golden years. When you support our efforts to bring Pantry on the Go events to places like Brunswick House, you help lessen the effect these issues have on seniors.

Food has the power to transform lives, and a recent Benefits Data Trust study shows just how impactful proper nutrition can be on not only health, but finances as well.

SNAP is a Strong Weapon in the Fight Against Senior Hunger

Seniors who participate in the SNAP program are:

  • 23% less likely to be admitted to a nursing home
  • Able to save an average of $2,120 annually in health care costs
  • 10% less likely to visit an Emergency Room/li>
  • 14% less likely to be admitted to a hospital at all, and experience a 10% shorter stay if they are admitted

We know the small benefits that SNAP provides can make a big impact. That’s why we recently expanded our SNAP Outreach team. We’re thrilled to be helping more Marylanders assess their eligibility, navigate the required paperwork, and enroll in the program.

“Seniors are one part of the population that we really focus on,” said Maite Almaguer Riveron, MFB’s bilingual government programs coordinator. “Knowing how much SNAP benefits can help them and how many barriers they face, we want to make it as easy as possible — so we go right into senior communities.”

man sitting

SNAP beneficiary Christopher is a veteran who was injured while serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and now lives in Brunswick House. He sees Pantry on the Go as “a wonderful and much-needed asset, especially the fresh fruits and vegetables.” Even with good health insurance from the VA and SNAP, Christopher finds it difficult to take care of all his needs due to limited resources, but he remains positive. “I believe there is no shame in accepting help from those who want to help, like the food bank.”

Hunger is a widespread problem that affects seniors from Cumberland to Cambridge. It is a rural issue, a suburban issue, and an urban issue. We’re doing good work by ensuring regular deliveries of nutritious foods through Pantry on the Go events and helping with SNAP applications, but we’re always looking for ways to improve or expand our existing services.

Together, let’s show our senior neighbors that we will be here to care for them.

4 thoughts on “Golden Years? Golden Rule. Senior Hunger in Western Maryland

  1. I’m to sign up for a senior box, I go to Fishes and Loaves on Patapsco and my 91 year old Grand-dad is included in my household count. I was given the number to call and I’ve called on two occasions. If I’ve left a message in the wrong place, please forward this information ton the correct party. Thank you in advance.

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