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Indiana Seniors Benefit from NASCAR's Jeff Gordon and Drive to End Hunger

July 29, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Seniors face the issue of hunger for a variety of reasons, which is why AARP, its AARP Foundation, and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon are teaming up for the "Drive To End Hunger" during this NASCAR season. In Indiana, they're donating $10,000 to help feed at-risk elderly Hoosiers.

Susan Ellis heads the EAT Coalition, short for Elders at the Table – nonprofit groups working together to eradicate hunger among older people in Indiana. She says the risk factors for senior hunger are being single, female, living alone, and not having an adequate income.

"Poverty is not the only reason seniors face hunger, although the Indiana University Center on Aging did a study and showed that the highest percentage of seniors in almost every county in Indiana earned between $6,000 and $10,000 a year."

Ellis reminds adult children they also can play a role in making sure elderly relatives don't go hungry.

"Recognize the risk factors for their own parents. They don't understand, or they don't appreciate, the fact that if you have a senior living alone, the likelihood that they're going to cook themselves a nice, nutritious meal is very low."

Addressing hunger among seniors will take the efforts of many to be effective, she adds.

"It's just not as easy for seniors to access food, whether it's health, mobility, transportation, or just lack of funds. Communities are going to have to step up. This is not an issue that just families can take care of, or just the government can take care of."

The donation by AARP and Gordon to Gleaners Food Bank will go a long way, according to Gleaners' spokeswoman Carrie Fulbright.

"A $10,000 check can help us in distributing 50,000 meals; and that, of course, will then be distributed to 21 counties we service in central and southeastern Indiana."

Indiana ranks 12th in the nation in the percentage of older folks at risk for going hungry, according to a 2008 University of Kentucky study.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN