Seniors struggling with hunger find help in Holmes County

According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, 4.9 million senior citizens seek food assistance across the country. The organization conducts a study, the State of Senior Hunger report, and it has found that though seniors tend to live on fixed incomes, 1 in 5 work at least part-time to try to make ends meet.

Many low-income seniors must make difficult choices, like choosing between groceries, housing, medical care, transportation and utilities. As budgets are strained, 81 percent of people struggling with hunger purchase the cheapest food available, even if they know it’s not the healthiest option.

More than 10 percent of all individuals served by the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank are seniors. In 2018, the Foodbank demonstrated its commitment to reaching even more seniors by increasing the amount of senior food boxes distributed across its network through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

The Darb Snyder Senior Center in Holmes County is a hunger-relief partner of the Foodbank, serving more than 200 senior citizens each month.

The small staff of nine, prepares 2,300 meals each month through its daily congregate meals, home-delivered meals and CSFP boxes. Their partnership with the Foodbank saves $1,000-$2,000 each month in groceries.

“We wouldn’t be able to keep operating if it wasn’t for our involvement with the Foodbank, since we work solely on donations,” said Georgianna Cool.

Cool, who has volunteered as the director for the past 12 years, says the people served by the senior center rely heavily on its food programs. She knows people choosing between their medications and food, while waiting for their next social security check to come in.

“Our seniors, they need the help. There’s a lot of cracks they can fall through, and they don’t qualify for much assistance,” she said.