Aging Hungry

July 28, 2023 01:00:09
Aging Hungry
Just a Bite
Aging Hungry

Jul 28 2023 | 01:00:09


Show Notes

It is often stated that Ohio is an aging state. But what does that mean? And how do we create communities that support all of us as we age? Ohio’s older adult population is projected to increase by 21% by 2030! Unfortunately for some, food insecurity and poverty become more prevalent as they age. Recently, Ohio foodbanks have been seeing an uptick in older adults seeking help, with households with at least one Ohioan over 60 making up a third of our caseload statewide. Sarah, Just a Bite cohost, spoke with Beth Kowalczyk from Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging who gave an overview of our aging state and what policy solutions would support our older Ohioans, Sarah Brown from the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to talk about the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and Patty, a resident from Mahoning County, Ohio about her experience navigating nutrition programs as an older adult.   


Find more information on the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging on their website, their twitter, and their Facebook page  

Learn more about the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank on their website, their Twitter, their Instagram, and their Facebook page  

Find your local Produce Perks location to get additional SNAP dollars for fresh fruits and vegetables.  

Learn about the findings from the study done by Ohio’s foodbank network here.  

Hear more stories from those living with food insecurity and poverty. Listen to our previous podcast episode interviewing SNAP participants  

Find your local foodbank to find help, volunteer, and donate here.        

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Ohio Association of Foodbanks is aregistered 501c3nonprofitorganizationwithout party affiliationorbias.We are Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger and our mission is to assist Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks in providing food and other resources to people in need and to pursueareas of common interest for the benefit of people in need.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 <silence> Speaker 1 00:00:19 Hi, all. It's Sarah here on just a Bite. This week I had the privilege to explore the state of hunger for older Ohioans with three experts on the topic. I spoke with Beth Alek from Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, who gave an overview of our aging state and what policy solutions would support our older Ohioans. Sarah Brown from the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank came to talk about the commodity supplemental food program, and Patty, a resident from Mahoning County, Ohio, talked about her experience navigating nutrition programs as an older adult. Take a listen. Speaker 0 00:01:14 Well, Speaker 2 00:01:14 Hi, Beth. Thank you for being on the podcast today to talk a little bit about the state of hunger for our older adults. Speaker 3 00:01:24 Well, thank you so much, Sarah, for having me. I'm delighted to be here and delighted to talk about this subject. Great. Speaker 2 00:01:31 Um, could you start by introducing yourself to our listeners and maybe, um, sharing a little bit about how you got into this work? Speaker 3 00:01:40 Oh, sure. Um, well, I am the Chief Policy Officer for the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and I work with 12 area agencies on aging around the state, and we're part of a vast network across the country of over 600 area agencies on aging. Um, the, um, mission of the area agencies on aging is to provide, uh, services to older adults so they can thrive in their homes and communities. And it ranges from, um, home delivered meals, home care, evidence-based prevention and wellness programs, legal services, all sorts of things. Um, I like to say the area agencies on aging are your place to go for aging services 1 0 1. If you need any help to understand how to remain independent in the community or if you're a caregiver, um, what I get to do is represent the area agencies, um, at the State House and with, uh, the state administrative agencies and the federal agencies in Congress. So advocating for area agencies on aging and older adults, um, for good public policy and increased funding to support all the important services that folks need. Speaker 2 00:02:52 Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. All the work you agencies do. I think I'd like to start by setting the scene here. So, um, we always hear that Ohio is an aging state, um, but I wanted to ask you, what does the data say, um, in terms of how many older adults we have and, you know, where that is projected to go? Speaker 3 00:03:20 That's a great question. I always like to even set the stage a little further to make sure that people realize that everyone's aging. And so when we talk about how many older people there are in the state or, um, in the nation, um, I think people have different ideas of what aging means. And so I always like to just level set and, and talk about how we're all aging. Um, and so there are more of us aging and we're living longer, and that's actually a benefit to our communities because we bring this, um, experience skills, um, and just, um, you know, the, the longevity of, of, of the community. And so when we think about that, then we think about how do we ensure that we are adapting to an older population? Um, and that's a lot of the things I know we're gonna talk about is how do we support all of us as we age? Um, to get to your question specifically, um, by 2040, um, Ohioans age 60 and older will make up 25% of Ohio's, um, total population. And this isn't unusual, this similar situation is happening across the country, but we are one of the states that has a higher older adult population that continues to grow as, uh, the baby boomer generation, um, continues to hit 65 and older. Um, you know, we, we are seeing a larger number of people that are older compared to younger populations. Speaker 2 00:04:53 Yeah, absolutely. I think you make a great point about how we're all aging and aging is a, you know, a good thing and we should, um, think of it as such, and that we also need to make sure that we have the supports to do so. Um, and to make sure that not only do the people before us who are aging have those supports, but that we also have those supports as we age. Um, Ohio's Food Bank Network conducted a statewide survey, um, of our food bank customers, um, during late April and early May of 2023. Um, we found that more than more than a third of the households we serve include at least one member over 60. Um, why are older adults more like likely to be food insecure and or low income? Um, and what are some of the uni unique challenges that they face, um, when trying to meet their basic needs? Speaker 3 00:05:54 Um, well, I think there's a number of things that are in play here. Um, you know, I think there are, uh, challenges as we get older with, um, uh, maintaining, um, a presence in the workforce. Um, you know, if there's a situation where, um, there could be employment discrimination because of, um, age, and so maintaining, um, income security, it can be, uh, challenging. Um, and, you know, you're expected to retire, but you have, uh, older adult then forced to live off of, um, a limited amount of what they say is fixed income, right? Social security or pension. Um, and those things are kind of dwindling from, uh, you know, what we've known in the past. So people have, uh, limited access. And then when you look at the expenses that people have now, they are, um, much higher, uh, in recent years, uh, you are looking at particularly housing, more people are paying, um, a significant portion of their income towards housing. Speaker 3 00:06:57 And so that reduces the amount of, uh, resources they have for other things. Um, and then healthcare costs as you get older, there's a potential for significant healthcare cost. Um, and one of the things that people don't realize is that, um, Medicare doesn't cover everything that you need in terms of long-term services and supports. Um, it covers short-term healthcare needs, but not long-term supports. And so there is this, uh, increasing, um, expenses and, uh, limited amount of income and resources that people have. So, um, you know, I think that puts older adults at, um, in a difficult position and having to juggle, do I pay rent? Do I pay for food? Do I pay, you know, my, um, prescriptions? Um, these are all challenges that they, uh, have to juggle. Um, and so, you know, that's why it's so important to focus on how we can support and address these needs. Speaker 2 00:07:59 Yeah, absolutely. Um, and why is nutrition so critical for older adults to engage? We always say engage in the activities of daily living, um, and make sure that they're living with dignity. Speaker 3 00:08:16 Um, well, nutrition's critical for all of us. It ensures our health. Um, and that, you know, as we get older, there's the potential for, um, additional health, um, issues and that it's, it's just so important to, uh, be able to have access to healthy food. And, um, you know, some health conditions can be exacerbated by not having the right nutrition. I mean, looking at things, um, such as, um, managing diabetes to, um, just needing to take food with medicine so that it can work effectively and not upset your stomach. Um, but it really is about, um, healthy aging outcomes and, uh, in terms of the, the quality of nutrition. But I think people have challenges just having access to food in general. Speaker 2 00:09:10 Right, absolutely. We have been talking a little bit with some older adults over the past couple years, um, at the association, and, um, I shouldn't be surprised, but the one thing that I was really surprised about is the need for nutritional shakes and how they're not, they're so expensive, um, but they're so critical for some of the folks that we were talking to to make sure that they're getting in their protein, um, and making sure that they're strong and healthy. Um, and I didn't realize fully that sort of link. Speaker 3 00:09:48 Yeah, I mean, that is a, uh, an issue for sure. Um, I know that there are certain chronic diseases that have impact your ability to, you know, take in food in, in terms of chewing or swallowing, and you having those shakes help support people's nutritional needs. Um, you know, there was a commission that was formed a couple years ago at the state level on mal senior malnutrition and mm-hmm. <affirmative> focusing on how to, to address that. And it's food insecurity. It's also the ability to assess people and what kind of nutrition they can take in and how they take it in. So yeah, I mean, as we're all living longer and thinking about these issues that, that you're seeing things like that, um, that are more prevalent. Speaker 2 00:10:34 Um, and kind of going more into that, what are some policy solutions that would help older adults age in place age with dignity, um, and help us respect their wis wishes when it comes to their care? I know that, um, you know, home healthcare is super important, um, but there's always a balance there between, you know, making sure the workers are well paid and getting a living wage, but also making sure that's affordable for the folks that need it. Speaker 3 00:11:06 Well, you've certainly hit on the area that I love to talk about the most <laugh>. Um, and it really, uh, is, um, a range of things because I think most people, when they think about what can we do to help people age well in their homes and communities, we're thinking about services, regarding activities of daily living, like home care and home deliver meals. But really it needs to start with looking at, um, how we can be more age-friendly and looking at everything through an age-friendly lens. And we have a tremendous resource with older adults who, um, can give back to their communities for a long time and have, bring that expertise and experience and wisdom, um, all of these things that contribute to their community. So what can we do in our communities to ensure that that can happen? Um, you know, there are issues with social isolation. Speaker 3 00:11:55 There's issues with communication and making sure people have access to information. Um, and that's just how our communities are, um, planned and built to, to enable people of all ages to be able to, um, have walkable communities and access to, uh, healthy foods, grocery stores, and other, um, things that are just important to all of us. Um, and so, you know, I think communities can be looking at things like that, um, at a, uh, a bigger scale, um, in terms of what's friendly, but then also looking specifically, um, in terms of policy, uh, the work we do and supporting older adults with providing for those basic needs and helping them access, uh, services, home care. You've hit. Um, a really important issue is something we just went through as a state budget and we're able to help, um, get, uh, more funding to support increases, uh, for home care and wages for workers because the workers are themselves, uh, in get paid, getting paid poverty wages. Speaker 3 00:13:04 Um, and so, uh, we're hoping that the state is now on a trajectory to really support that work, um, so that it does pay a competitive wage and then so that older adults have access to home care. Um, and it's, it's all, all of those things I think in terms of looking at our, um, particularly program set or support by the state and federal government to make sure that they have the capacity to continue, um, in the next several years. And that requires funding and public support, um, and everybody talking about how we all want to have access and equal access to these services in the years to come. Speaker 2 00:13:47 Well, thank you for that. I wanted to ask you one final question. Um, where can listeners find help, um, and find the Ohio area agencies on aging, um, and all the work, good work that you all do? Speaker 3 00:14:05 Well, thank you for asking that. Um, so to find us, you could start at our website, which is, um, Ohio We also have a Facebook and Twitter presence, and you can just Google that. Um, and then on our page, we do have a directory of all of the area agencies on aging, um, that cover the state of Ohio. So you can look for your county and see which area agency covers your county, and there's a, a link and a phone number, and I highly recommend folks call their area agencies on aging if they have any questions about what's services are available, you know, what should people do in terms of is it time to look at, um, assisted living or going to a facility? There are options out there, so it's not as limited, I think, as people think. So I encourage everyone to, to check that out. Speaker 2 00:15:00 Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Beth. Speaker 3 00:15:03 Well, thank you so much for having me, and I really appreciate you highlighting this issue. Speaker 2 00:15:16 Hi, Sarah, thanks for chatting with me today about C S F P. Speaker 4 00:15:21 Thank you for having me. Speaker 2 00:15:23 Of course. Um, could we start off by you introducing yourself to the listeners and maybe giving us some background of how you got into this work? Speaker 4 00:15:34 Sure. Um, so my name is Sarah. I'm a program coordinator here at Akron Canton Regional Food Bank. I've worked here for just under two years, and I coordinate our Feeding Kids program, which supports backpack programming and our C S F P program. Um, I've been involved in kind of a nonprofit, um, kind of helping field as as long as I've been around. So I, um, started in college looking at food banking, and I've worked my week through a couple nonprofits and found myself at the food bank, and it's been a great journey. Speaker 2 00:16:08 Great. Yeah, definitely a public service servant through and through. Absolutely. Um, <laugh>, you and your team humbly serve Ohioans living in the Akron Canton area of Ohio. About how many people are you serving and how many of those are older adults? Speaker 4 00:16:27 Yeah, so, um, so far in 2023, we have seen 1.4 million duplicated visits within our Hunger Relief Network. Um, about 20% of that does count as seniors 60 and over. Speaker 2 00:16:40 And how does that compare with pre pandemic? Speaker 4 00:16:45 So, like I said, in 2023, we had 1.4 million visits as of quarter two or June of 2023. In 2019, at the same time we served duplicated 1 million folks, so that's about a 30% or 36% increase, rather, Speaker 2 00:17:01 We're seeing that increase all across the state, unfortunately, just due to the pandemic and all the economic fallout of that, along with our other food banks across the state, Akron Can Regional Food Bank runs the commodities supplemental food program, which we call by the acronym C S F P C. SF P is a monthly food program that older adults 60 plus can enroll, and if their income is at or below hundred 30% at the federal poverty level, which is about $18,954 annually for a household of one, the U S D A, um, food and Nutrition Service sets the C S F P caseload for each state, depending on resources available, how many slots are currently taken in each state, and how many additional caseload requests each state has. Um, after going through a brief application, older adults that are enrolled get a monthly box of shelf stable foods. Um, so I kind of ran down the, the requirements of the program and what, um, folks have to go through. Um, how has your, um, food banks experience been with operating this program? Speaker 4 00:18:20 Yeah, so we currently distribute our full caseload, which is 1700 boxes monthly throughout our service territory, which is eight different counties. When I started at the food bank about two years ago, we were distributing around 1500 a month. We were a little bit below that at some points, and we've steadily been working really hardly to increase the number of boxes we're able to get to seniors each month. Um, getting up to this caseload has been a lot of strategic planning and outreach to, um, find member agencies like food pantries and different service organizations in our area that can not only handle the requirements of the program, like the paperwork delivering and or distributing all of that good stuff, but also having the eligible senior population within their area, meaning they're over 60 and they meet that 130% federal poverty level, um, to, to be eligible and get a box each month. Um, I definitely try and be a point of support and communication with these programs. There is a lot of administrative work that we have to kind of work with them to learn how to do and how to outreach their seniors. Um, you know, again, they, they do outreach, they do applications, they distribute BO boxes. So it just takes a lot of teamwork to get to the seniors. Speaker 2 00:19:36 Yeah. And older adults can tend to be a hard population to reach sometimes. And, um, there's plenty of unique challenges that come with that. Um, I know that there are some really innovative pro approaches to making C S F P more accessible, um, including like home delivery, um, and supplementing the shelf stable, um, box with fresh produce or dairy. Um, what are some interesting models that you have seen or heard, and how does, um, the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank, um, make C S F P more accessible, um, and meet the needs of the older adults that you're serving? Speaker 4 00:20:19 Yeah, I love the idea of supplementing those shelf stable boxes with fresh foods. It can be a lot to have to just use, you know, 30 pounds of shelf stable foods and, you know, try and find other options around that. Um, so seniors can come shop in food pantries with distributions. We have a lot of programs who kind of stack their distributions together with food pantries with hot meals, so they're able to kind of supplement their, their needs and get more, you know, meat or vegetables or dairy. Um, in addition, we have had several partners who have switched to a drive-through model during covid, and they found that seniors really like this. They like to drive through, pop their trunk open, have it loaded and drive away and beyond with their day. We've had a couple that stick with this model and are planning on continuing it, you know, moving forward. Speaker 4 00:21:07 Um, we currently offer home delivery to over 250 participants each month, and we're continuing to look into innovative solutions to meet seniors needs. You know, I'm sure some of our programs work with volunteers to also deliver on top of that 250, um, which is I'm really happy about. And really great to see our, our partners working hard to meet these seniors needs. Um, another fun program that I kind of just wanna highlight briefly, it's not necessarily an innovative solution, um, but we recently started a C S F P box coloring program. So we work with schools and summer camps, um, to have boxes checked out and brought to the camps or the school and have kind of a learning opportunity about, uh, food insecurity and hunger and seniors needs. They get to decorate the boxes, make them all pretty, and then they get built and sent out to seniors. Um, so I just think that's a great way to kind of, not only get them the food, but put the love into it and a little personalized touch to maybe make a senior smile. So that's another fun thing we're doing. Speaker 2 00:22:10 Yeah, that's such a great idea. And I, I think the education piece is really important too, and having a sense of community, not only for the seniors, but also for, you know, the kids that are coloring and decorating those boxes. That's such a great idea. Speaker 4 00:22:27 Absolutely. I've heard some great conversations when we have kids come in and decorate here at the food bank as well. I'll just about how they've never thought about these needs before, so it's really cool to see. Speaker 2 00:22:36 And on your home delivery program, is that, um, through a service like DoorDash or Uber Eats, or is that something that you guys are doing in-house? Speaker 4 00:22:48 So we have a couple of different routes. We are going to get all 250 plus participants their boxes each month. Um, we do use DoorDash to some extent for some of these deliveries. We also have recently been working with an Amazon flex for deliveries, and then we are building and working on increasing our capacity with a volunteer delivery service called R S V P. Um, so we can have local community members help out and volunteer to seniors that they may know, they may not know. It's awesome to see our community get involved. Speaker 2 00:23:23 That's great. Yeah, we've, we've heard that home delivery is definitely like an area that, um, should be invested in and thought about just because there are a lot of seniors that are home bound and can't really make it to places. So I'm glad that you guys are doing that, and I know it's kind of a, uh, patchwork, uh, solution. Um, but I'm glad to see that's not only your food bank, but other food banks in Ohio are kind of making that commitment to do that. Speaker 4 00:23:55 Yeah, it's certainly a unique challenge because I think like a lot of food banks and a lot of folks, we did this as a response to maybe the pandemic and what people needed, and we're kind of learning as we go. So it's been a, a big learning process and it's been very helpful to kind of hear feedback and work with different organizations. Speaker 2 00:24:15 So let's kind of talk a little bit about the challenges. Um, what are some of the limitations of the program Speaker 4 00:24:23 Program? Yeah, so like we just talked about home delivery, getting the food to the people is a huge challenge. Seniors have a lot of unique needs, one of which being transportation, um, some of the time. Um, and making deliveries does take funding. It does take fundraising. It does take working with other organizations like DoorDash, fla, um, Amazon Flex and Uber Eats. Um, so we're constantly fundraising to kind of facilitate with this program and continue keeping up with the need. Um, in addition to that, um, just going back to the current income eligibility, the, like we talked about, it's 130% the federal poverty level or income guidelines. Um, and that equates to $18,954 a year or 1,580 per month. Um, while our pantries are serving a different level, which is 200%. So we've got this kind of discrepancy between people who come to food pantries and people who qualify for the senior boxes. And there's this gap there that these seniors don't qualify, but they may still benefit from the box. It's just a little bit low, in my opinion, of income guidelines. Speaker 2 00:25:38 Yeah, that's definitely a change that could be done on the federal level. I know that it's within the statute, which is a little unique when it comes to the nutrition programs, um, that you have to meet 130% at the federal poverty level. What elements of C Ss F P would you like to see updated to better meet the community's needs and make it a little bit easier to implement the program? Speaker 4 00:26:02 Yeah. Um, like any program, there are certainly limitations. So we, we kind of discussed that already a little bit. Um, the one I consistently see and I hear from our partners and from our neighbors when they're signing people up is the, the income guidelines. Unfortunately, you know, I've seen far too many seniors who still need the help, who don't qualify. I've heard many stories from our partners where, you know, they just can't find the seniors who have this income level. Um, so I would love the, the guidelines to mirror that of a food pantry potentially, and kind of bump that up if the federal level could work on that, that would be cool. And we can kind of cast a wider net into seniors in our community and, and reach more people that need the help. Um, I'd love to explore more flexibility of the contents of the box. Speaker 4 00:26:50 The boxes can get very, very monotonous for seniors. You know, nobody wants to eat a jar of peanut butter every single day, all the time, every month, or the same, the same can of green beans. Um, so just having a little bit maybe more flexibility or options maybe addressing the, the weight of the box, because with within those options, we do have a certain weight we have to make. And that's really heavy for seniors to carry 30 pounds plus a block of cheese, you know, really can be taxing. And, and some seniors can't do it. So it, it can be a struggle to get them into their house. Um, and always additional funding to help support the food bank as we find more innovative ways to serve our seniors, um, with DoorDash or, and with Amazon, with home delivery and beyond. We'd like to kind of be able to branch out a little bit more. Speaker 2 00:27:40 Yeah, absolutely. You made really great points about the weight of the box and the flexibility of the contents. Um, that was actually my question about the contents of the box. Um, what Speaker 4 00:27:52 Think alike. Yes, Speaker 2 00:27:53 Exactly. But I'm never heard the weight of the box being a challenge, but I can absolutely see how that could be. So that's a, that's a really great point. Speaker 4 00:28:03 Yeah. I, I didn't ever really think about it until I was doing delivery distributions. I was helping load cars with all these boxes and you know, I'm younger after five boxes, I'm getting tired. I can't imagine having to, you know, you're 60 plus carrying this box. Maybe you live upstairs. Maybe the delivery driver left it at the bottom of your, your, you know, front porch and you gotta get it up the stairs. And it can be a challenge. Not everyone has the help, the tools they need to be able to get that inside sometimes. Speaker 2 00:28:34 Yeah, absolutely. And um, I think going back to the contents of the box too, like not all seniors are on the same sort of diet, um, and have medical needs that they need a certain diet for. I've heard even like, um, I don't believe this is with the senior box, but um, like some seniors are, have said that they can't drink grapefruit juice, but sometimes that's what the food bank provides because mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you know, we're working within certain limitations, but they can't drink that because of their, um, you know, medicines or their medical needs. So it's really interesting sort of the, the limitations there. Not sometimes we don't even realize that there's a limitation until it's pointed out to us. Speaker 4 00:29:28 Absolutely. It can be a blind spot until someone tells you for sure. Speaker 2 00:29:32 Yeah. Well, great. Well, thank you so much for talking to me a little bit today, Sarah. Um, where can listeners find the Akron Can Regional Food Bank? Speaker 4 00:29:44 Well, thank you for having me. Um, the Akron Can Regional Food Bank can be foun[email protected], and when you go there, you can either make a donation or find food assistance by navigating our, um, in interactive map of food programs in the area. Speaker 2 00:29:59 Um, thank you so much, Sarah. Speaker 4 00:30:01 Thanks for having me. Speaker 0 00:30:10 Do you Speaker 5 00:30:10 Mind just introducing yourself again? So your name, your age, and what, um, Ohio City that you live in. I am, my name's Patty. I'm 66. I'm, you know, divorced and right now I live in Boardman. What are some of your interests, Patty, and what do you care most about? Well, I, you know, I've always loved animals and a big thing for me is, uh, dogs and cats, but I like all animals. Um, not so much bugs, but <laugh>, you know, more than four years don't really do too much for me. But, uh, you know, I had great Danes for 20 years and I just love them. And I've had two Persians and I just love those. Now with my, my, uh, disabilities, I, I'm not able to move fast enough to housebreak a puppy. I'd love to have another game, but, uh, uh, this is the first time in my life for like five years now that I haven't had a pet since I was in grade school. Speaker 5 00:31:11 Wow. So it, it's, you know, it gets kinda lonely and, and I've been housebound for the last two years because of Covid when it's, you know, when they started shutting things down because, uh, my primary physician had told me that with my different health conditions, that if I got Covid I wouldn't make it. And he came right out and told me. And even now when I go to the doctor's office, I wear a mask in there. So, you know, the only place I go for the past two years is to doctor's offices. And, uh, I, I haven't been to the mall or to Walmart or anywhere shopping or Hobby Lobby, one of my favorite stores. And, you know, and it's really starting to get to me. And I love crafts. You know, I've done crafts for years, so I like that. Okay. But it's just hard, you know, getting around. Speaker 5 00:32:00 I don't drive anymore neuropathy, neuropathy of the feet very bad. So I, I don't feel up, so I don't feel the gas pedal or brake pedals, so I can't drive like that. But my, my biggest happy spot is with cats and dogs. Yeah. Tell me a favorite dish of yours. A favorite food, favorite dish that you like to make. Is it the pasta salad you were telling us about? Well, yeah. I love pasta salad. When you make it with that salad supreme. Uh, yeah. Yeah. It's a good on it. You know, that shaker stuff and, uh mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's exactly what you're talking about. Yeah. The South Supreme. And then I like to use the Viva Italian dressing mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I like to use dry colored pasta. And then I get usually two blocks of cheese, a white cheese and a yellow cheese and cube it up small. Speaker 5 00:32:47 Then I get a whole pepperoni stick and uh, you know, cut that up, small cubes. But, you know, by the time I get done with the pepperoni stick and the cheese, my hand's cramping 'cause you'll, you know, that's a lot of little cut. Yeah. Yeah. <laugh> and I like, you know, tomatoes and black olives in it, and I love bees trooping off. Yeah. Yeah. And it's easy and I make a big pan of it, and then I'll have it for a couple days and it doesn't bother me eating the same dish two or three days in a row. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if it's something I, yeah. Thanks for that introduction, Patty. It's, it's so nice to have you on the podcast today to discuss such an important topic for so many Ohioans Uhhuh. Um, when I was doing research for this episode, I learned that in the year 2000, no Ohio County had more residents over age 60 than under 20, um, than under age 20. Speaker 5 00:33:36 And by the end of 2020, that number was at 44 counties or 50% of Ohio counties, um, had more residents over age 60 than under 20. So that's a big deal. Yeah. So statistics like that outline very clearly why food insecurity among Ohio older adults or older Ohioans, um, should concern us all. So, so Patty, tell us, tell us a little bit about how you normally do your shopping. I shop sales and one of the biggest things I do is I buy my meats from I g a Nims, uh, in Struthers on Creed Street. They have great meat sales every week, and their, their meats I think are very good. You know, you can get three or four different, different cuts of pork chops there, ranging from a dollar 29 to a dollar 99. And they have their roast on a different roast on sale every week. Speaker 5 00:34:30 And boneless skin is chicken breast. None of my food ever has freezer burn on it. And that's what alters the taste. I wrap it up with Saran wrap. So the Saran wrap touches the skin of everything, and that keeps the air out. And then I put 'em in freezer bags. Now another thing, and I don't know if how many people know about this, but at Neiman's, i g a and Sparkles on South Avenue. Now, I don't know if the other stores, branch stores will do this or not, but if you go in there and when you buy fresh fruit and vegetables and you use your E B T card, your, you know, your food card you take, when you check out, you go take that receipt to the office of the store there and they will give you a voucher. So the next time when you come in and say you spend $15 on your E B T card on fresh fruits and vegetables, you're gonna get a, a voucher for that amount, and you can use that voucher voucher to get $15 of fresh fruit and vegetables free. Speaker 5 00:35:33 You don't use your e b two card for that. Did you ever hear that they match? Yeah, they match it. They match the dollar. Yeah. I think that's the produce perks program. So that's, that's a, that's a biggie. 'cause fruits and vegetables, a lot of times you, you get tired of apples all the time. You can get those on sale pretty cheap. So, you know, if you get $15 or fruit this week and it's, and you didn't have to use your card for it, that's $15 that you've used for some other, you know, meat, bread, whatever you wanna do. And I was listening to one of your other podcasts and someone had mentioned on it that they, you know, they didn't have a stove. And I know that the welfare department down in Job and Family Services, uh, they used to offer, uh, these money vouchers for I think 200 or 250. Speaker 5 00:36:20 Uh, you still have to call and see, uh, because they were closed when I tried to call 'em. They help, you can use that voucher down there to get a used stove. And what they do is they, they take in stoves, refrigerators, washers, and dryers, and they sell 'em at discount prices. But, you know, for a basic, a white stove, you're not gonna be paying $1,200, you know, for an lg, but, and they'll, they'll bring it to your house and install it. And I, I think there's a, a $30 fee for them to deliver and install. And I, I believe they still do it, and I, there might be another place that does that. So, you know, so for people that, you know, don't have a stove to cook on, uh, you know, that's, you can consider that an option. Speaker 1 00:37:05 Yeah. Patty, those sound like great resources. Um, and I know that you had mentioned the county J F SS office. I was wondering, you know, like what is your, what has your experience been with the SNAP program? Um, I'm talking like from the application process to the interview to just receiving your benefits month to month. What has your experience been? Speaker 5 00:37:30 Well, it hasn't been bad. You know, no one wants to go downtown to their offices. I, I actually wish that they would have a, a satellite office like in Boardman, you know, when you're way out here, it's easier to get to when you have to depend on rides and stuff like that. And I was treated nice. I, I mean, the last time that I went down for a review, uh, they actually saw me with a, my Walker and, uh, they had a girl come down and open up one of the offices on the main floor and she took me in there and I was like, surprised. She said, we saw that you had a walker and we didn't want you to do all that walk and you know, we could just bring you up here on the computer. Yeah. And it was real. Yeah, it was nice. Speaker 5 00:38:12 She had my checking account pulled up to see what money I had deposited, and the only money that goes every month is my social security disability check. So I approved my income and that was it. And then I was good to go and I was done. And I said, man, I don't even have to come in for this. I mean, you know, if you're just gonna pull up my checking account, but, uh, you know, you gotta shop smart. You have to shop, you know, the sales and when you're stocking up your pantry, you know, don't buy any meat that's not on sale because eventually it's gonna be on sale. Can I ask you, does your SNAP benefit with all of your like very savvy shopping techniques, does your snap benefit ever last you the whole month? Or could it, if you needed it to, or even with the best shopping techniques, you still can't get it. Speaker 5 00:38:58 You still have to, the way I utilize other programs with the way I shop my food, my SNAP benefits last me every single month. And my freezers still full. You know, my, and I'm still taking stuff out of the freezer. And that's because the way I shop now, I have a friend that she shops by meal and she's, she's spent the fortune doing that, you know, going by a recipe and getting everything on that card that she needs. And halfway through the month she's out of, uh, uh, her, her SNAP benefits and she doesn't know what she's gonna do. And I said, well, you're gonna have to, you know, purchase your groceries. Right. And, uh, you know, and she goes, well, I don't have the money to do that. I said, well, you know, you just gotta start shopping better. I keep telling you and telling you and telling you. Speaker 5 00:39:46 And you know, I said, that's how you have to think. Now. You just cannot, you, you just, you can't have that, oh, well, we'll do something or someone's gonna help me out because there's gonna be a time when someone's not gonna be able to help you out and what are you gonna do for food? But you have to consciously think about where you're spending your, your SNAP benefits or how you're spending them and how you're spending your cash because yeah, you need, you need the SNAP benefits toes throughout the month as the month as much as possible. Right. And you need your cash. So if you run outta the SNAP benefits and you can buy food for you and your children, your bills and your food and everything thing taken care of for the month. So at the end of the month when everything's taken care of and you don't need to use that money, that money can be used on, on, on a treat. Um, you know. Yeah. That you, you just gotta be proactive. And Speaker 1 00:40:41 Patty, I know that you said that, um, usually your snap benefits last you through the month, and that's a lot, a lot of that has to do with your, um, savvy shopping techniques, making sure that your shopping sales. But, um, how often, if ever at all, would you say that you had to cut the size of or skip meals because there wasn't enough money for food in the last 12 months? Speaker 5 00:41:15 In the last 12 months? I never had to do that. That's great. I'm glad Speaker 1 00:41:19 To hear. Yeah. Speaker 5 00:41:20 I, I've been very lucky with that. Yeah, that's really helpful, Patty. I'm really glad to hear that you haven't had to make those tough decisions. Um, do you know anybody, like your friends that you talked about, for example, that has had to make, you know, know that has had to cut meals or, or, um, eat smaller sizes? Yeah. My, my friend, she still does it. And, uh, I, I don't understand why I, you know, I, I show her when she comes over, you know, my freezer, I open it up, you know, but she still stops, shops the same way and yeah. You know, she'll buy a lot of pre-made food that's more expensive and then sometimes she has leftovers and she'll wrap 'em up and she'll throw 'em in the freezer, but she just wraps them up with a little bit of aluminum foil and throws them in there. Speaker 5 00:42:06 Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and the thought it's all freezer burn and she's, then she just pitches it, or that's just throwing money away at the end of the month. If you have a nice balance still on your card, if you wanna go at it, go at it. If you, if you wanna keep some back, you know, for the next month, because you don't have to use up everything that's on your card, they're not gonna take away. Right, exactly. In the last 12 months, have you had to choose, and I think the answer's no based off your answer to the last question, but I'm gonna ask you anyway. Um, have you had to choose between buying more food or other basic necessities, uh, or for other household expenses? Well, the one thing that I think is kind of hard, and I wish that they would, you know, maybe with a snap benefit that to it, you know, just a small amount for paper products, toilet paper, uh, saran wrap, aluminum foil, uh, clothes detergent. Speaker 5 00:43:00 Oh my goodness. Clothes detergent, you know, unless you get the cheap $2 and 50 cents for, you know, a big gallon of extra, they, if you ever used it, it doesn't clean, it just doesn't ate <laugh>. But that would help. It's, it's not like whatever money they give you a month to buy that stuff. It's not like you have to buy that stuff every month. You need stuff to wrap food in. Um, you need tube paste, clothes, detergent, and dish detergent. Um, so those things like necessities, I don't need my pantene creamers, I can use suave, you know, so <laugh>. Yeah. But you know, you need clean clothes and, you know, nobody wants to send their kid to school with gray ginger looking clothes. Speaker 1 00:43:40 Yeah, definitely. We hear that so often that, you know, these are all, all necessities and that, um, a lot of the things that you had listed, like paper towels and um, foil and all those sorts of things like have to do with cooking and have to do with running a household. Um, and they're all needed. Speaker 5 00:44:03 Yeah. It, it, it's especially the foil and saran wrap because you, you used your card for food and you want them to stay good and you not get freezer burn, so you wanna be able to wrap 'em up good. So you can use 'em a month from now and you don't wanna lose what you bought because you don't have anything, you know, to wrap 'em up in Yeah. You wanna take care of the food that you do purchase with your E B T card and you, you want, you know, it would be nice if they, they would supply the supplies that you need to do that. Speaker 1 00:44:34 Patty, you shared with us that you are disabled. I was curious to know if any of your conditions are diet related or diet aggravated? Um, are you able to get the things that you need to manage your medical conditions every month? Speaker 5 00:44:52 Uh, yeah. Um, it's hard because I'm also diabetic and that's always an error ongoing thing. It, it's really hard, hard when you have, uh, when you're diabetic and then you also have heart issues because when you're diabetic, you gotta watch the sugar and the carbs. When you're diabetic, you gotta watch the fat mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So if you got fat, sugar and carbs except for protein, there's nothing else. And I told my doctor, you know, what the heck? I mean, I might as well just go out and graze on the grass with the, you know, with the Billy goats. What else is there? You know, you know, because, you know, when you think about it, you know, everything's either, it's either gonna have fat sugar or you know, carbs. So it, it, that's hard. It's easier to, to eat for a heart condition than it is for sugar. Speaker 5 00:45:44 You know, dia being diabetic and, uh, lot of fresh fruit, but there's still a lot of sugar in it. And you know, they, it's a, it's a lesser of two evils. It's better than eat drinking the juice because the juice is, it's just, it's whopping with sugar. But, you know, I'm the type, you know, if I got six peaches or nectarines, I'm going eat one or two a day because I just love fruit and strawberries. I want strawberries season. I could eat a whole container in the evening just sitting here watching TV and eating strawberries, <laugh>. But you know, that's, that's a lot of sugar and it tastes good. And, uh, but you know, what else is there to snack on? You know, um, you can't, you can get fat free ice cream, but you not sugar free ice cream. Oh, I found one yogurt that's sugar free. Speaker 5 00:46:30 I love yogurt, but, um, it's like three times the price of yogurt play, you know? Mm-hmm. They price you by that. Yeah. Right. You, you know, to buy stuff like that, you have to be in an upper income because you just, you know, you can't spend $4 on a cup of yogurt and, you know, to have it, you know, for evenings, you know, if you, if that's what you're going to eat every week, every day as your evening stack, it's, it's not feasible moneywise because it's, it's just you, you feed food card's, not gonna last a month when you're, you know, buying stuff like that at that price, so. Right, right. Yeah. So it, it's hard when you're diabetic and then you have heart issues and trying not to eat the bad foods for each of those. It doesn't leave a lot. Yeah. You know, to choose from. Speaker 5 00:47:18 Yeah. Patty, can, can you tell us, we actually got introduced to you from, um, from our partner, um, uh, over that runs the, uh, the senior food box program up in your area. Um, can you tell us a little bit more about that program? Well, I got started with that when co with Covid, and I believe they, they, I believe when it was Covid was at its height and they were getting a lot of donations and stuff. That was, uh, I think that was weekly. Now it's once a month. Uh, it's a older gentleman, in fact, he just delivered this, uh, this past Thursday. Wonderful man. Volunteers, he works with, with so many different places every day. He's delivering or packing boxes, food boxes. I, you know, he, he's an older, he's, I believe he's older than me and I just don't dunno how he'd, I'd love to have half his energy, but yeah. Speaker 5 00:48:07 <laugh>, um, you know, he tells me about some specific groups that, uh, have people donating for them. You know, like certain, like, uh, there's one health issues that if people have, there's people that donate specifically for that health issue. And I guess he said like, it went at Christmas time last year, all the meats, you know, the hams and you know, turkeys and stuff like that. Now, you know, you don't get that with what, with what I'm on. Uh, they didn't provide, you know, a nice little Turkey dinner this year, but it's amazing, you know, what gets, he said, what, what one gets delivered or donate to one group and not the other. But, um, you know, I appreciate people donating. I wish that, that they would think a little bit more about what they donate. Like I got three cups of, um, oh, you know, like those, those ramen noodles and I really like those mm-hmm. Speaker 5 00:49:04 <affirmative>. Okay. I, I do, but there's so much salt in them, so, you know. Yeah. The digest of heart failure and I can't take all that sodium and I got, you know, like three of those things, uh, you know, Thursday and every time I go in the kitchen, they're still in the box and I look at them and I want them so dang bad because I lot the taste and I'm trying to stay away from it because I know that's salt. I, I had to be put on water pills over. It is Easter. 'cause I ended up in the hospital, you know, swollen up. I, I know they're cheap and it's, and it's filling, you know, and the kids can eat them, but a lot of adults can't. So, you know, there's a lot of times there'll be things in there that I won't eat or I, you know, I just don't like, but I never throw anything out. Speaker 5 00:49:52 I always ask somebody, you know, will you eat this? Will you take this? And so it's always going to somebody else that can use a little bit of help. So now I've gotten some veg fresh vegetables in there and I didn't even know what the heck they were. I'm looking at it, my, uh, health aide's looking at it and I says, what do you think this is? Because there was no time, twisty time on it to say what it was. And, and it's, it's big leafy thing that's kinda rough looking. And it's like, I think it might be kale, but you know, medicine <laugh>. So if I recognize it, how am I gonna know to crook it? I, I think when we're turn turnips or rua bakers, I don't know what the heck they were, but she took 'em and she says, I'll ask my grandma. Speaker 5 00:50:35 She'll probably know what they are. <laugh>. I'd be freak. Yeah, that's a good point. I mean, how, yeah. You can't give people stuff without, uh, even a name of what this is and Right. Let alone we're trying to get more, um, access to recipes in our boxes and in our ba our produce bag that we give out to, because we want people to have a a starting place of to want to know, you know, how to, what do you do with this, you know? Exactly. People don't know. So, um, I definitely agree with you and think you made a really good point there. Let me ask you, you told me when we first chatted about, um, getting you on the podcast a little bit about your United card or your new card that helps you buy groceries. Well, I, I get the United Healthcare card and that's $25. Speaker 5 00:51:19 And then I, I have Anthem Insurance. Okay. I have Anthem and United United takes care of the 20%. Anthem is my primary and I get an O T C card over the counter card with them. And, uh, you cannot order anything from Walmart online through their app and have it delivered to your house. And that's what I did the last two years. I buy a year membership from Walmart being, I don't drive anymore and I order all my groceries for them. I've never had a problem and they deliver 'em to my front door. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> you use, uh, when they, whoever they used last year, it was still Walmart products plus other name brands for the O T C. But you could get it on the, uh, the app in order and have it delivered with your food with United Benefits. You can't do that anymore. Speaker 5 00:52:14 And you have, yeah, you have to go to the in-store to purchase any food with them online. You could purchase food through them, but it can only be like canned goods and boxed good stuff 'cause it's being delivered and you can't deliver fresh fruit food that way. Now what they're doing is they're calling it's healthy foods and it, it won't go, it supposedly won't go through on the card. When I've talked to them on the phone, they said, well look in your catalog, it'll tell you if it takes it. And a couple times I requested a catalog from them, but I'm still haven't gotten one and uh oh no, no. And then they said, well you could scan it. And I said, which means scan every item that I'm putting in my cart to see if it's, it's in your catalog. And she goes, yeah. Speaker 5 00:53:00 And oh my God, that's a fun day. That's a fun day. So, um, yeah, that's an unreasonable even that to even suggest that <laugh> and, uh, you can't buy pork. It's considered an unhealthy food with these cards. Just happened to find out by chance. Uh, she mentioned it when I was on the phone. 'cause I like to buy pork chops when they're on sale at iga and I like pork chops. You get sick of chicken all the time. So, uh, I said I can't buy pork chops or pork roast. No. What about a Hamm for Easter? No. And oh, you can't buy any deli meat ham and you can't d buy bacon and because they don't consider it a healthy food, so they give you that little extra card. So that helps. Yeah. You know, since the government took away that extra covid money from the food stamps that doctor a couple months ago, and if you were used to that, um, you know, I'm sure for a lot of families, you know, that was a godsend for 'em and then having to do without that Yeah. Speaker 5 00:54:04 That money, you, you know, which that extra covid money was taken away from the, you know, the E B T cards. That's rough. You know, whether you're having losing 60 to $80 or something like that. Uh, and you depended on that. You had kids. Now all of a sudden that's gone. Now for me, I, I really didn't even need that. I mean, I was doing okay with what I made on the food stamps because of the way I shop mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. So I couldn't, you know, I, I took it, made it, you know, I got extra stuff, but I was in necessity, it wasn't a necessity for me. Sounds I'm very lucky, Speaker 1 00:54:40 Patty, that, um, it sounds like those two things were really great supplements. Um, but um, like we've talked about in depth that they weren't really, they didn't really provide you the choice that you wanted it sounds like. Um, and I, yeah, we talk about this all the time about how, um, there's dignity in choice and that we should always push for choice in these programs as much as we can. Talked about the things that, um, allow you to get the foods that you need throughout the month, but only one, the SNAP program allows you to actually tailor your diet the way that you want and need. Um, do you mind talking a little bit more about, you know, like the differences in the programs and how, you know, how much choice is important to you? I know we've, that's kind of been a theme throughout the whole time that we've talked, but I'd love to hear more Speaker 5 00:55:41 As far as the box and going to food pantries. I guess it all depends on what food pantry you go to now as far as the E B T card and the card for this, uh, through the offered through the insurance companies with E B T card, you can get anything on there. I, I guess foodwise, you, you with the ones that are healthy foods only, you know, I maybe 'cause it's insurance companies offering it that they don't want you using it for pop and ice cream and stuff like that. I had a, a couple, you know, months ago I bought a couple that were on sale and, uh, at, uh, ley Brothers and I just hadn't had a, I haven't had a steak in two years and it just, I saw CEL and it sounded so good and I had the extra for it and I said, I'm going for it. Speaker 5 00:56:32 So I sent my health, ate up to get the two steaks and I, I I one day and I ate one the next day. I didn't even spray space it out because it tasted so good and it was probably because I hadn't had one for so long, but I was able to afford it because I watched what I was spending. So, but you know, it, it, it took me a long time to get to that because, you know, I, when I was married I had a decent income, a very nice income. Yeah. Right, right, right. Woman divorced you. I'm down to poverty level. But yeah, so with, you know, E B T you're not, you're not, there's no limitations. But with the, the insurance ones, it is healthy foods only, so Right. You gotta, you know, you gotta have treats sometimes, but you got the E B T card to do that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, buy good with, with your extra that you're getting from your insurance companies and, uh, yeah, I just don't like the limitations, so. Yeah. Yeah, that's fair. Understandable. That's fair. Speaker 1 00:57:33 We were just saying that that was really understandable and, um, we hear that often that, um, you know, people just wanna choose what's right for their, them and their families and that they're the best people to, to do it. So, Speaker 5 00:57:50 And this has been such a great conversation of especially highlighting, you know, your shopping techniques to ensure, um, you know, that you have enough food to eat every month. That has been truly a highlight, and we haven't had anybody on the podcast yet that has really like dove in and, and, and talked through, you know, tips and tricks. I hope that people remember about the fresh fruit and vegetables that you could get free for whatever amount you spend. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah, there's a website, everything that you should put in the podcast, that website after I get done talking about it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. No, this was really great, Patty. Thank you for spending some time with us this afternoon. This has been so, so good for your story. Speaker 1 00:58:38 Ohio's Food Bank Network conducted a statewide representative survey of the Ohioans we serve in late April and early May. It is clear that many Ohioans we serve are struggling, and that includes many older Ohioans and Ohioans with disabilities. 34.7% of the households, Ohio food banks serve have at least one member, aged 60 plus. Nearly four in 10 households had at least one member with high blood pressure. More than one in four have at least one member with diabetes. More than one in seven have at least one member with a heart disease or stroke. They're making untenable trade-offs between food and other basic needs, including 55% of survey respondents reporting that they had to choose between food or medicines or healthcare in the last two to three months. You can learn more about the statewide hunger study in the show notes or on our website, Ohio food Thanks for listening, and we'll talk to you soon.

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