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AARP Takes Aim at Arizona Senior Hunger

May 9, 2012

PHOENIX - Citing statistics which show that an estimated 175,000 Arizona seniors face hunger every day, AARP has launched the "Drive to End Hunger" campaign to raise awareness of the issue and begin to fix the problem.

The tough economy since 2007 has had a serious impact on senior nutrition, says David Parra, AARP Arizona's community outreach director.

"One would not think that we have this issue in our country, but surveys show that there's nearly 9 million people nationwide age 50 and over at risk of hunger every day."

AARP Arizona is recruiting volunteers in the Maricopa County area to help seniors apply for SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. Parra says volunteers should be comfortable operating a computer and will be required to attend a one-day training course.

Among the places where volunteers will be stationed, Parra says, are food banks where they can sign up seniors who come in seeking help.

"We will be also looking to senior centers and retirement communities, just to have these volunteers available so that people can come and find out if they qualify or not, and actually help them with the application process."

Another part of the "Drive to End Hunger" involves temporary help for grandparents raising grandchildren. Parra says it's a partnership with the Central Arizona Kinship Care Coalition and St. Mary's Food Bank.

"These grandparents are going to be getting a food box which contains several items: cereals, juice, milk and other things."

The initial effort will provide 100 family units with 10 food boxes each between now and the end of the year, Parra says. More funding is being sought to further expand the program.

People wishing to volunteer can contact Parra at 480-414-7637 or dparra@aarp.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ