On Wednesday, August 16th, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) and Feeding America will together release The State of Senior Hunger in America 2015: An Annual Report.  The study is the latest in a series that provides the most current data on the hunger status of individuals age 60 and above. The State of Senior Hunger in America 2015 examines the incidence of senior hunger both nationally and on a state-by-state basis, assesses risk factors and identifies those populations that are most vulnerable.

NFESH has been commissioning and disseminating such research documents for nearly a decade, and states, Area Agencies on Aging, senior nutrition programs, and other anti-hunger groups have relied on this information to help measure their progress or regress in the fight against senior hunger and to help them understand where they stand relative to their peers across the country. This year NFESH is pleased and honored to announce that we will be partnering with Feeding America on the release of this year’s report.

Once the report is released NFESH will make it available on our website and we will provide a link in the next issue of this newsletter, so you can access it easily and share it among colleagues, advocates and others who are, or should be, interested in the issue.

Here are two facts that we can be certain about even before we examine Dr. Ziliak’s and Dr. Gundersen’s latest research findings in The State of Senior Hunger 2015. Fact 1: There will be significant inconsistency among states as far as individual senior hunger rates are concerned. Invariably, some will improve and some will worsen. This has always been the case. Fact 2: Regardless of what the numbers show, we can be certain that far too many seniors are struggling with issues related to hunger in this land of plenty.

home-slider-fruit-bannerIt is a short leap from there to the next point. It is time that we as a nation begin to understand the indisputable connection between food waste and hunger. More important than that, we must embrace the reality that reducing waste can and should contribute substantially to reducing hunger.

NFESH knows better than most that the issue is complex and that the solutions, plural, not singular — for there is not one silver bullet – are manifold and varied, depending on the type of entity or enterprise that is generating the waste.  But we also know that some viable solutions already exist, so they don’t need to be created. They just need to be adopted and implemented. In the context of senior nutrition programs, the evidence affirms that the What A Waste initiative is a sensible, proven and prudent place to start. So is the broader Reach4Solutions (REACH) project of which What A Waste is the linchpin.

In the coming weeks, this newsletter will be transported to a new Reach4Soutions web site and be transformed to a biweekly blog there. Through that site our focus will be on what we at NFESH often refer to as helping senior nutrition programs “get the right people in the room.” That involves more than reviewing program operations and furnishing the excellent diagnostics, analyses and recommendations that are part of the Baseline and Final Reports that comprise our core What A Waste curriculum. It means reaching beyond the kitchen operations and even the walls of the senior center to get a better understanding not just of the preferences of the clients who currently participate but also of the community from which they come and their peers who could benefit most by being included. That’s why REACH4Solutions will provide an array of innovative utensils to help senior centers do just that. Among the novel tools are a custom-developed senior survey, a community scan, demographic analysis, and outreach target.

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp…” a famous poet once penned. So should any organization’s whose vision is solving problems to improve the lives of others.  That’s what our REACH is all about.