Your AARP ; California News
$25 buys a week’s worth of food
Hunger ’round the Corner
Clara Johnson never expected to need help putting food on the table. But the rising cost of rent, medical
care and other expenses stretched her
Social Security check to the breaking point.
Today, the retired hairdresser, 81, is fighting eviction from her home and counting
on a monthly allocation of food from the
Pasadena Senior Center.
“Years ago, I thought: ‘I feel sorry for
people who need help, and I’m not going to
ever get myself in that position,’ ” she said.
“Now, I’m at the top of the list.”
Johnson has company. One in 13 older
Californians is at risk of hunger, accord-
ing to a report commissioned by the AARP
Foundation. With the recession, the num-
ber at risk has grown nationwide with 8. 8
million Americans 50 and older facing the
prospect of hunger.
“I think most people are shocked when
they find out how many older Americans go
hungry,” said David Pacheco, AARP California president. “But one thing we know is
that people want to do something about it. It
doesn’t matter what political party they belong to—Americans just do not believe that
people should go hungry in this country.”
New campaign launched
The AARP Foundation recently launched
a new program, called Around the Corner Hunger, to focus attention on hunger
among older people on a local level. The
project, launched in Los Angeles, Houston
and New York City/New Jersey, is part of
AARP Drive to End Hunger in those areas.
“Hunger is right in your neighborhood,”
said Gwenn Murray, the foundation’s
Hunger Impact Program manager. “Around
the Corner Hunger is our strategy to raise
funds for community-based organizations
that are on the front lines of addressing
hunger among older adults every day.”
At aroundthecornerhunger.org, donors
can choose to give enough money for a
week or more of food and designate it for
one of the three locations or to wherever
the Foundation thinks it is needed most. A
$25 donation provides roughly a week of
food. Over the next two years, the project
will expand to include more community-based organizations around the country.
Local hunger programs will receive 100 percent of the donations. The MetLife Foundation is matching donations for the New York
metropolitan area up to a total of $100,000.
Other efforts are under way as well. In September, Tony Bennett was the star attraction at a Los Angeles benefit concert, with
proceeds going to Drive to End Hunger.
Waiting lists for food
This new fundraising drive is welcome news
for financially strapped agencies struggling
to meet growing food needs amid government cutbacks and declining donations.
“For the first time in our history, we have
had to create a wait list of about 80 agencies
that need food,” said Carole D. Tremblay, Los
Angeles Regional Food Bank chief develop-
ment officer. “We just can’t supply enough.”
Tonjia Barnes, Pasadena Senior Center di-
rector of client services and outreach, said
that it does not currently receive funding to
serve those with the greatest need—people
ages 50 to 59—because the funding is ear-
marked for those 60 and older. She hopes
this new effort might provide funds so they
can expand their services to those under 60.
Older Californians also can receive food
assistance from CalFresh, the state’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program, formerly known as
food stamps. But only 17 percent of eligible
older Californians receive this aid.
“We know there’s a huge hunger problem
in California, and that’s why the state office is engaging in the Around the Corner
Hunger project to solicit donations for local
food banks in the L.A. area, where the need
is particularly acute,” AARP’s Pacheco said.
“We are committed to involving our staff,
volunteers, members and the public in this
very important effort.”
—By Laura Mecoy
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The estimated dollar value of a volunteer hour for
each state, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin
Islands for 2009.
Value of Volunteers
* VALUE IS BASED
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