Senior Grocery Collaboration Is Proving, “If You Build It, They Will Come”

You might remember the exciting news from earlier this year about the Senior Grocery Program. It’s a collaboration among a variety of Bold Goals Coalition partners developed to provide monthly grocery deliveries to food-insecure seniors across Central Alabama, while also bringing additional federal dollars to our region. Now, with a pilot program firmly in place, the news keeps getting better.

L to R: Ron Davis, Jamie McLynn, Jessica Nix

An update to the community about the Senior Grocery Program was recently held at United Way of Central Alabama, and included a panel discussion with Jamie McLynn, Special Projects Coordinator with Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, Jessica Nix, Social Worker with the UAB Geriatric Clinic, and Ron Davis, Senior Grocery Program volunteer with Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Jasper. The big news at the update was that not only has the pilot program been successful from an operational standpoint, it has also proven the need and desire for the program is even greater than initially expected. And that means additional federal funds topping $800,000 will now go toward providing groceries to hungry seniors.

Jamie described the remarkable progress on this initiative through the pilot phase. “We’ve been so successful at enrolling seniors and sites [thus demonstrating to the government how much people really want this program] that we have been able to increase our caseload. So we’ll be able to serve 1,450 seniors every month instead of 1,350. We’ve already distributed more than 8,000 pounds of food [to various sites] ranging from senior housing communities to churches to UAB outpatient clinics.”

Hungry for Help

This is welcome news, as our state has the seventh-highest rate for food insecurity among seniors in the nation. Just within Central Alabama, more than 25,000 seniors struggle with putting food on the table.

Jessica indicated that UAB frequently sees these issues among older patients, and it’s alarming. “When we did a simple two-question screener of patients, we were very surprised how many seniors are struggling with hunger,” she said. “This issue directly affects their health and well-being.”

Public housing communities also reflect this reality, as Ron noted from his experience in delivering groceries to residents in the Jasper area. “We meet many seniors who are struggling with a number of issues, and this program really helps us better meet their needs and add additional options to round out some of the other food that has traditionally been available,” he said.

We’re looking forward to the full rollout of this program, which we expect to be underway by mid-summer. This is another example of how working together around a common agenda and shared goals better enables us to tap new resources and scale-up proven programs to help more people in our region faster than ever before.

The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.