Here are some of the top stories we’re following for today. 10/31/18 Damian Giletto/The News Journal
Wilmington Senior Center member Cheryl Colburn, 62, said she often has to â€śpick and chooseâ€ť which expenses she can cover with her social security check.
There are the utility bills, car insurance payments, taxes on her house which she inherited from her mother, and the costs of doctorsâ€™ visits and the five medications she takes to manage her blood pressure.
Sometimes, there wouldnâ€™t be enough food, even with the $15 she gets monthly from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.
â€śBeing this age, I never thought it would be such a struggle,â€ť said Colburn. AÂ Northeast Wilmington resident,Â sheÂ retired two years ago from a long career as a loan collector.
She’s got company.Â About a fifth of Wilmingtonâ€™s senior residents are food insecure, the Food Bank of Delawareâ€™s CEO Patricia Beebe said Tuesday.
That means they lack consistent access to enough food for a healthy, active life, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Statewide, about 13 percent of adults age 55 or older have fit into that category in the past 12 months, according to Lisa Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation.
The advocates talked about those statistics Tuesday at a J.P. Morgan Chase volunteer event Tuesday in downtown Wilmington, during which employees packed more than 50,000 food boxes for the Food Bank.
Advocates for seniors in the Wilmington area said supplemental food programs are much needed. The cityâ€™s senior poverty rate from 2011 to 2015 was nearly 21 percent, far above the 6.8 percent for seniors across Delaware, according to a recent University of Delaware study.
â€śThereâ€™s an extreme needâ€ť among senior citizens in Wilmington, said Kathleen Purcell, executive director of the Wilmington Senior Center, which serves lunch to seniors, distributes food boxes and runs a food pantry.
Colburn shops for groceries for the month when she gets her SNAP money, and for the past two months, sheâ€™s been able to keep her pantry stocked with a food box she picks up at the senior center.
Sacred Heart Village II was dedicated in Wilmington’s East Side on Friday morning. The site has filled 26 units with low-income seniors looking for a place to live. 5/12/17 Damian Giletto, The News Journal
The boxes, which contain canned foods and pantry items such as cereal and pasta, are provided by the Food Bank and distributed to senior centers, churchesÂ and other organizations for pickup. Some are paid for through a Department of Agriculture program. Some are donated privately, like the ones the Chase employees packed Tuesday.
â€śThe box helps carry me through,â€ť Colburn said. â€śSometimes I wish it were more.â€ť
At the Kingswood Community Center in Riverside, senior residents pay a few dollars to eat lunch each weekday. Neighborhood resident Sandra Honie, 71, said she and the 14-year-old grandson sheâ€™s raising get by on SNAP and other public assistance.
â€śIf it wasnâ€™t for this program here,”Â she said, gesturing at her lunch in the centerâ€™s cafeteria, where sheâ€™s been coming for about six months. â€śIt helps a lot.â€ť
Advocates said seniors are often faced with daunting medical costs on a fixed income, and sometimes give up nutritious meals in order to afford other expenses â€” one of the characteristics of food insecurity. They said they hope to enroll more senior citizens in Delaware in SNAP.
Seniors â€śdonâ€™t always want to admit they need help,â€ť said Food Bank spokeswoman Kim Turner. â€śThey always think thereâ€™s somebody else out there who needs it more.â€ť
â€˘ Donate cash or nonperishable food to the Food Bank, which is now collecting food for Thanksgiving boxes. it’s needed by Nov. 2, and then collections will continue for Christmas and regular needs.Â For more information, emailÂ [email protected]
â€˘Â Many churches and religious organizations offer pantries to help those in need near them. Contact your local church.
â€˘ DART’s annual holidayÂ ‘Stuff the Bus’ is the first week in November. It’s seeking nonperishable food items for the Food Bank.Â Pickups will be Nov. 5 at the Acme in Rehoboth from 9 a.m.-3 p.m; Nov. 6 at theÂ Walmart in Milford and Safeway in Dover from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Nov. 7 atÂ the ShopRite, 501 S. Walnut St. in Wilmington from 9 a.m.-Â 4 p.m.; Nov.Â 8 â€“ Wilmingtonâ€™s Rodney Square, Market Street side from7 a.m. â€“ 5 p.m.; Nov.Â 10 at theÂ Acme, Suburban Plaza in Newark and the Acme in Middletown from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.Â For more information call 1-(800)-652-DART or go toÂ www.DartFirstState.com.
â€˘Volunteer for Meal on Wheels and other programs that deliver hot lunches to the eldery and people who can’t get out of their homes. Wilmington’s Meals on Wheels program, City Fare, takes volunteers and donations here:Â mealsonwheelsde.org or cityfare.org.
Contact Jeanne Kuang at (302) 324-2476 or [email protected] Follow her at @jeannekuang on Twitter.
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