On a sunny day in May, Paulette Pegues picks up her mother, Frances Pittman, 80, at her home three blocks away. They make the short drive to the parking lot at Unity Temple C.O.G.I.C. in Jackson, Tenn., where volunteers provide food designed for good health that will last them nearly two weeks. This Mobile Pantry from Mid-South Food Bank is held at Unity Temple once a month, thanks to sponsorship by United Healthcare.
“The food is amazing. It’s a big help, and grace from the good Lord,” said a smiling Paulette, who especially appreciates the food for her mother.
Mobile Pantry distributions that take place across Mid-South Food Bank's 31-county service area. More and more, seniors make up the majority of clients served. Many live on scant fixed incomes, leaving them in need of food assistance after paying rent, utilities and, especially, medical bills.
More than 5 million seniors face hunger in America, approximately 70,000 in the Mid-South, according to Feeding America. And 63 percent of seniors who receive food assistance say they regularly must choose to pay for either medical care or food – an unacceptable choice.
According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, one in four older Americans has poor nutrition. Facing malnutrition puts seniors at risk of becoming overweight or underweight. It can also weaken muscles and bones, leaving them vulnerable to disease.
Paulette says that without the 45-pound box of food that includes vegetables, her mother would miss out on getting enough of the nutrition in her diet. “The assistance helps in two ways. It helps put less strain on money for groceries, and the food, especially the meats we receive, provide protein we need and enjoy. I put the meats in soups I cook and it last longer and tastes great,” she said.