HERNANDO, Fla. — Today, on Florida’s west coast, tenants at Forest Ridge Senior Residences in Hernando did something remarkable. Gathering in the facility’s clubhouse, they rolled up their sleeves, donned blue and red hairnets and packed 10,000 meals for people in need of nutritious meals.
Beginning at 10 a.m., as the music of Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers filled the air, residents began assembling meals, carefully pouring ingredients through a funnel into bags that one after another built up to an eruption of cheers as the first 1,000 meals were packed.
The group’s only complaint? When someone accidentally turned off the music. The situation was quickly remedied with a little help from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully.”
The 10,000 meals assembled at this lively Hunger Project will be distributed to families and seniors in the Citrus County area.
Tom Fagan, 69, spent the morning packing bags of food into boxes and preparing them for distribution. “We need to help each other in this world,” he said. “It’s fun when you get to help someone.”
There are an astonishing 45 million Americans living below the poverty line, and that number includes millions of seniors.
There are an astonishing 45 million Americans living below the poverty line, and that number includes millions of seniors. According to the National Council on Aging, more than 25 million Americans aged 60 or older are living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. These older adults struggle with rising housing and health care costs, and inadequate nutrition.
“Faced with either paying their bills or buying food, too many seniors are forced to go hungry,” says Dave Green, CEO of U.S. Hunger, the organization that coordinated today’s Hunger Project.
When most of us think of hunger in the U.S, we think of the 500,000-plus homeless Americans sleeping on the streets, in tents, in cars and other exposed places. The problem is much bigger.
“The ‘face of hunger’ is most often the person next door, the child on your son’s basketball team, one of the girls in your daughter’s troop, or the senior in the apartment across the hall,” Green explains. “It’s a ‘silent hunger’ because most of us don’t see that people all around us are hungry and need help.”
U.S. Hunger was formed in 2013 to provide healthy meals for the 45 million Americans who live below the poverty line. U.S. Hunger is the domestic feeding arm of Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE), a Florida-based social charity that since 2010 has mobilized 388 thousand volunteers to package 57 million healthy meals for hungry children and families in 49 countries around the world.
Volunteer meal-packing events, or Hunger Projects, are done in assembly-line fashion and held throughout the country, drawing up to 10,000 volunteers from corporations, houses of worship and various other groups working together toward a hunger-free world.
By partnering with food pantries, NGOs, orphanages and schools, and providing them with much-needed healthy meals, FCE is helping to break the cycle of hunger and hopelessness here in the U.S. and abroad.
Learn more about hosting a Hunger Project and other ways to get involved at ushunger.com.
Robert Andrescik, firstname.lastname@example.org.