COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Hunger doesn’t discriminate, no matter your race, gender, location, or age.
In Licking County, many senior citizens struggle to put food on the table, but the Mid-Ohio Food Collective and one of its partners are working to meet that need.
“In our 20-county service network, Licking County stands as number two in terms of both the amount of food that goes out, as well as the amount of need,” said Kerry McCarthy of the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.
And many of those in need are some of the county’s oldest residents. Their golden years are tarnished by food insecurity.
“One in six people who are seniors are really experiencing hunger,” said McCarthy.
“These are people who are working within often fixed incomes, these are people who can be vulnerable in terms of where they’re living, their medical situations, a lot of volatility within the population,” said McCarthy.
But the Mid-Ohio Food Collective and its long-standing partner — the Food Pantry Network of Licking County — are working to create some stability.
“We have to really start to think about this — how are we supporting our senior populations into the future?” said McCarthy. “So, we have programs that are targeted to senior populations.”
Susan DeLong was one of the people to benefit from those programs. Before she was a volunteer for the network, she was one of their clients.
“We were, you know, below average on our income,” said DeLong. “We were in need. So, I used, I utilized the system then for fresh produce and different things that we’re handing out.”
Now, she hands out fresh produce to other seniors in similar situations. Replacing a need — with nutrition.
“Seniors are the ones for me that this means the most to,” said Charles Moore, Executive Director of the Food Pantry Network of Licking County. “Some of the tomatoes may start looking a little bit rough at the end of their lifecycle, and we still have them. But there’s not a senior that’s going to turn that away and say, ‘Hey, I can turn that into tomato sauce. I can turn that into spaghetti sauce.’ And that’s what, what the program allows us to do for our seniors. They see a lot of this product is a treasure.”