The ‘Feed Seniors Now’ food drive kicked off Thursday at Kroger on Frederica Street as a part of a national effort to raise public awareness about food insecurity and hunger within the aging population.
“Nearly 1 in 6 senior citizens is at risk of hunger which is devastating,” said Jennifer Williams, GRADD’s Associate Director for Aging and Social Services. “That’s a huge number. What we are doing here in the local area is collecting food from Sept. 5 – Oct. 11 in partnerships with Independence Bank, Comfort Keepers, Kentucky Legend and Canteen, which have all been tremendous supporters.”
GRADD is now on their eighth year of doing the food drive that collects groceries with the help of community donations, then sorts and distributes to seniors in need. In the past, they have served over 500 seniors in six counties — Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McClean, Ohio and Webster.
“Last year, the bulk of those deliveries, nearly 300 of those were in Daviess County,” Williams said. “We deliver to anyone over 60 whose below 150 percent of the poverty line. If they are already receiving some type of public benefit, then they are typically eligible.”
GRADD’s Aging and Social Services specializes in assessing clients’ level of need and risk factors.
“This food drive is extremely important. We try to make sure older adults have their needs met. One of the things we measure when we meet with folks is malnutrition risk,” Williams said. “We see that there are a lot of people that score very high on that risk. Often, it’s a financial need.”
Their local office has seen firsthand the need with their in-home services programs.
“Our case managers frequently go into homes, and they don’t have enough food to make it,” said Amber Phelps, in-home services manager for GRADD. “Their checks aren’t coming in until the beginning of the next month, and they simply do not have food or the financial means to make ends meet.”
GRADD has partnered with Kentucky Legend, who has set up an additional collection site at the Owensboro Convention Center.
“We have hundreds on our home-delivered meals waiting list across our seven counties,” Phelps said. “We want to cover anyone in the community or in the counties that are in need. We are very excited about the food drive and the impact it has on our clients.”
GRADD says senior hunger is a silent epidemic and people need to be aware that it is real and it is right here in the community. While collection time is exciting, the GRADD team said the real reward comes on Oct. 22 when the community’s generosity is distributed to those in need.
“The delivery is the best part,” Williams said. “That’s when you get the hugs and kisses and smiles and the thank you’s from our seniors. They are excited. They are appreciative, and you see that even just a little bit of a donation can make a huge impact.”
Nonperishable food items may be dropped off at area Kroger and IGA supermarkets, as well as other locations, including Independence Bank, Comfort Keepers, GRADD, and local senior centers in participating counties. One hundred percent of monetary donations benefit the food drive. Those wishing to donate can mail a check to: The Independence Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 988, Owensboro, KY 42302, Attention: Feed Seniors Now.
Those interested in volunteering with the food drive or seniors that have a direct need can call GRADD at 1-800-928-9094 for more information.