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AARP & NASCAR Drive to End Hunger

June 13, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - AARP and NASCAR's Hendricks Racing Team have joined in a nationwide campaign to end hunger among seniors.

While the races are exciting, the statistics are sobering: More than 6 million older Americans sometimes have to skip meals or buy poor-quality food, and Texas has the fourth highest number of seniors in the nation at risk of going hungry.

AARP national board member George Rowan, who attended the Daytona 500 in February, says it's pretty impressive to see Jeff Gordon's No. 24 race car speeding around the track covered in logos that promote a cause rather than products and ad sponsors.

"It's a very snazzy car so to speak, and it's really recognizable out on the track. In a 500 mile race, you have a lot of exposure and visibility."

The campaign reports that almost 9 percent of Texas seniors are "food insecure," meaning they don't have access to the right types of food for health and nutrition. Nearly 21 percent of Texas residents overall say they haven't always had enough money to buy food during the past year.

Part of the campaign's goal, Rowan says, is to take away the stigma for seniors who often are uwilling to consider accepting federal or state assistance such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP.

"We are living longer - and if we're living longer, what we want to look at is the quality of life which you live, as you live longer."

A healthy diet is a critical part of that quality of life, says Rowan, who hopes the Drive to End Hunger will prompt more seniors to ask for help when they need it rather than having to choose between buying food or paying for medicine and other necessities.

The Drive to End Hunger comes to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on Nov. 6 and will continue through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Gordon got his second win of the season on Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Blakeslee, Pa. The campaign website, drivetoendhunger.org, includes a schedule of races.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX