Pilot program targets gated communities to fight senior hunger
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jun. 1, 2013 - UPDATED: Jun. 2, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Its a disturbing trend in Lee County, the elderly are going hungry.
Close to 3,000 local seniors visit emergency food programs in Southwest Florida each month.
To turn things around, the senior hunger task force is bringing new ideas to the table to help eliminate senior hunger.
It's now focusing on gated communities to collect food and household supplies for seniors.
Their pilot program took place Saturday afternoon at The Harborage Community in South Fort Myers.
Robert Thomas volunteers at the Senior Friendship Centers.
He explains that the food raising event will be very easy to replicate and "there are dozens to hundreds of these types of communities, if everyone of them got involved every year it would make an enormous contribution to senior hunger."
The task force stated that one in seven seniors in Lee County is at risk of going hungry.
Robert Thomas, a volunteer, said "the issue is that they have been very quiet about it and it's kind of an undiscovered problem."
In fact, recent sequestration cuts are eating away at the meal program's funds.
Nancy Green-Irwin, Executive Director of Senior Friendship Centers, had some somber words on the situation.
She added "we lost about $105,000 in our meal program which translates to over 15,000 meals we won't be able to serve."
But on this sunny Saturday afternoon, Harborage residents rallied to bring in food to the club house drop off site, where they were given free ice cream.
Homeowner Lisa Lee liked the concept and got her children to participate.
She stated "I have children and I think it's important to be a role model to them and let them know they need to give back."
All the food donated today will go to the Senior Friendship Centers for distribution, which feeds more than 1,000 seniors a year and has a waiting list of almost 300.