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Portland Area's First Food Pantry Program for Seniors Launched at Neighborhood House

Neighborhood House has opened the area’s first food pantry program targeting the needs of seniors. In these perilous economic times, the organization is seeing more seniors becoming food insecure, often eating only one meal a day, or going without protein or dairy. The program, developed by seniors and staff at the Neighborhood House Senior Center, will work to fill nutritional gaps not addressed by existing food assistance programs.

Shrinking retirement dollars coupled with higher heating and medical costs are forcing more seniors to seek emergency food assistance. Those with special dietary needs (low salt, sugar or cholesterol), medical conditions that require specific nutrients (increased calcium or iron), and those who can no longer cook from scratch or live in apartments without cooking facilities are most at risk.

The existing food security net consists of two important food resources for seniors: Loaves & Fishes, which offers one hot meal a day to seniors, and emergency food programs, which seniors can access for one food box a month. While both of these programs address hunger needs, one meal a day is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of elders and traditional emergency food programs do not have the necessary options for many seniors.

Neighborhood House’s new Senior Food Program will stock its pantry shelves with foods that best meet the nutritional and lifestyle needs of older adults. These include low salt/low sugar options, fresh produce and dairy products for good health. Microwaveable meals will be available for seniors who no longer cook, or lack full kitchen facilities.

Neighborhood House Senior Center has long been a food resource for area seniors, but lack of storage and refrigeration/freezer space had limited the food donations the center could accept. The new program will have a designated space, fully equipped with adequate storage and refrigeration.

Seniors aged 60 and older will be able to access two food boxes per month at the new program, compared with just one at most food box programs. Elders receiving assistance from the Senior Food Program will not be allowed to access food boxes through Neighborhood House’s existing Emergency Food Box Program. The agency expects to serve approximately 300 seniors per month through the new program.

Neighborhood House is seeking donations of senior-friendly foods, such as low salt/low sugar options, dairy and other calcium-rich foods and microwaveable meals. For more information about the new Senior Food Program, call the Neighborhood House Senior Center at 503-244-5204.

Neighborhood House is a leading area social service agency, providing innovative and life-changing programs to more than 12,000 low-income children, families and seniors in Southwest and across greater Portland. Find us on the web at www.nhweb.org or www.facebook.com/nhpdx