Older Americans Month (May 2017)
Building to Older Americans Month: Food Insecurity in Tennessee
Older Americans Month is both a celebration of America's older adults and a time to focus on their needs and challenges. Americans are living longer and, as a result, are discovering a combination of new opportunities and unexpected difficulties. There are issues of which we all need to be aware throughout the year, not just for a single month. But Older Americans Month gives us a chance as a nation to focus on older Americans' quality of life and pinpoint the areas that need our attention throughout the remainder of the year.
As we approach Older Americans Month this May, TCAD will spotlight a different topic each month. In February, we talked about changing population numbers and pointed you to The State of Aging in Tennessee: A County-By-County Snapshot. This month, the focus is on nutrition and food insecurity.
March to Meals: Food Insecurity in Tennessee
Take a moment and imagine not knowing where and when your next chance to eat might be. What if you lacked the money, transportation, or ability to find enough nutritious food to stay healthy? Imagine being isolated from sources of help in your community, or being physically unable to leave your home to make a trip to the grocery store, nutrition site, or food pantry.
Sixteen percent of Tennessee adults over 60 are faced with some or all of the issues above. Tennessee ranks 19 among all states in the percentage of older adults facing the threat of hunger, also known as food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Nutrition programs provided through the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) and supported by federal and state funding can only address a small portion of the continuous and rapidly growing need as the 60+ population explodes.
As individuals, we sometimes tend to ask of issues: Does it affect me? Is this happening to anyone I know? If we don’t feel the need ourselves, we assume there must be a program or group of people taking care of the problem. Unfortunately, this is one issue where the need far outweighs the current funding, volunteers, and other resources.
You may not realize it, but you have encountered people who are struggling with food insecurity. They may be closer than you know; it’s not something people like to advertise. Getting involved and donating some of your time or money can directly help older adults and persons with disabilities in your local community.
Examples of ways you can help:
- Volunteer at your local senior center or nutrition site.
- Drive a home-delivered meal (Meals on Wheels) route once a week.
- Sign up to make monthly or yearly donations to your local Aging Nutrition Provider or AAAD.
- Organize a fundraising drive at work, at church, or a local civic organization.
- Purchase a full price lunch from your local nutrition site once a week.
Please contact the TCAD Aging Nutrition Program if you would like to get involved, or if you have any questions about our services or food insecurity within the state of Tennessee.
Lacey Russell, Aging Nutrition Program Director
Mail: TCAD Aging Nutrition Program, 502 Deaderick St., Floor 9, Nashville, TN 37243
Aging, and issues related to aging, affects or will affect us all directly. Ensuring the quality of life and independence of older Tennesseans and adults with disabilities is our mission.
Want to help spread the message? Have something of your own to say? This drop-in article can help you raise awareness of, and encourage participation, in Older Americans Month. Use it as a fill-in-the-blank template or as inspiration for an original piece.
Older Americans Month 2017: Age Out Loud
Getting older doesn’t mean what it used to. For many aging Americans, it is a phase of life where interests, goals, and dreams can get a new or second start. Today, aging is about eliminating outdated perceptions and living the way that suits you best.
Take Barbara Hillary, for example. A nurse for 55 years who dreamed of travel, at age 75 Hillary became the first African American woman to set foot on the North Pole. In 2011, at age 79, she set another first when she stepped onto the South Pole. Former president George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving. Actress Betty White, now 95 years old, became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live in 2010, coincidentally during May—the same month recognized as Older Americans Month (OAM).
Since 1963, OAM has been a time to celebrate older Americans, their stories, and their contributions. Led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the annual observance offers a special opportunity to learn about, support, and recognize our nation’s older citizens. This year’s theme, “Age Out Loud,” emphasizes the ways older adults are living their lives with boldness, confidence, and passion while serving as an inspiration to people of all ages.
[Organization] will use OAM 2017 to focus on how older adults in our community are redefining aging—through work or family interests, by taking charge of their health and staying independent for as long as possible, and through their community and advocacy efforts. We can also use this opportunity to learn how we can best support and learn from our community’s older members.
Throughout the month, [organization] will conduct activities and share information designed to highlight [local programs, resources, stories, etc.]. We encourage you to get involved by [dependent on unique goals/activities].
Join us and ACL as we speak up for #OAM17 and #AgeOutLoud this May.
Visit the official OAM website.
Follow ACL on Twitter and Facebook.
Connect with us: [name(s), phone number/email, and social media sites as applicable]
Contact your Area Agency on Aging: Visit http://www.eldercare.gov/ or call 1-800- 677-1116