Time to Talk Turkey About Undernourished Older New Yorkers
Monday, October 25, 2010
NEW YORK - It's not enough to serve a turkey feast on the holidays for older New Yorkers, at least, not in a state where the experts estimate that one in four New Yorkers over age 60 and living at home is considered nutritionally at risk. The AARP's Beth Finkel says her group and the state's Office for the Aging are teaming up with a hundred food assistance programs in an effort to spur longer-term hunger relief.
"That's exactly why we're trying to highlight where there are food pantries and where you can get Food Stamps. Because once you sign up for Food Stamps you get them for a year. So it's not a one-shot deal or a Band-Aid."
The campaign kicks off today with an event at the Food Bank of New York City Community Kitchen in West Harlem. It will also feature an appeal to people statewide to volunteer or donate to help their older neighbors.
Greg Olsen of the New York State Office for the Aging says the "Fight Hunger in New York" campaign will try to dispel misunderstandings and stigma surrounding the SNAP program, more commonly known as Food Stamps. He says some older people decline them out of a mistaken belief that they represent a welfare benefit that, if taken, will deprive someone else of aid.
"As taxpayers, everybody pays in to support these programs. And I would challenge people to tell me what the difference would be between receiving a Food Stamp benefit and receiving a government benefit to send a younger person to college."
He says the media attention given the holiday-time, one-day meals for lower-income New Yorkers has its place, but the goal of "Fight Hunger in New York" is a longer-term one.
"The AARP campaign hopefully will take it from once a year, whether it be around Thanksgiving or Christmas, to something that can be 12 months a year, which is why we're so excited to be one of the partners in supporting the campaign."
The campaign features a website where your zip code can be input to find where and how to enroll for Food Stamps, and where you might volunteer or donate to a local food bank.
Zip-code-specific information is at CreateTheGood.org
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