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Food banks team up to combat food insecurity among seniors

Updated June 28, 2021 - 8:18 am

As one in 10 of Nevada’s seniors face food insecurity, two leading food banks in the state are trading tips on how to help their community.

A partnership between Three Square, Southern Nevada’s food bank, and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, will allow advocates to raise awareness to high rates of food insecurity in adults over 60 years old, they said Thursday.

Jodi Tyson, vice president of strategic initiatives at Three Square, said the two banks are focused on sharing best practices to address hunger in seniors. Programs differ between the two regions, and leaders are comparing what they can learn from each other.

For instance, Food Bank of Northern Nevada hosts a program titled Prescription Pantry that allows seniors to walk through a pantry with a nutritionist to see what foods may best fit their diet.

“Perhaps a doctor says you have hypertension and heart disease,” Tyson said. “That nutritionist will walk around and do a patient program with people as they walk through the pantry and talk about what are the kinds of foods that are lean proteins, what would beans do for your health — things like that.”

In comparison, Three Square’s inventory is pre-approved by dietitians to make sure the options have high nutritional values, and programs such as box deliveries include healthy foods, she said. But the two programs showed how Three Square could expand nutrition education and how Food Bank of Northern Nevada could expand home delivery for seniors.

The partnership is vital because of how widespread the food insecurity issue is, especially for seniors, food bank officials said.

One in eight Nevadans face hunger, according to the national nonprofit Feeding America, of which both local banks are members. And in the Las Vegas Valley, nearly 30 percent of seniors reported food insecurity before the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a survey conducted by UNLV academics.

Older populations face food insecurity differently because so many are on a fixed income.

“The things that we see with seniors that often will lead seniors to bouts of food insecurity include something as simple as a low-income senior whose doctor is changing their medication and that medication now costs them more than it used to,” Tyson said. “That can throw somebody into food insecurity for a while because now they don’t have all of the financial resources that they had the month before to be able to buy all the food that they need.”

Adults in Southern Nevada who are over 60 years old can call Three Square between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at 702-765-4030 to learn more about senior aid or can visit threesquare.org.

In Northern Nevada, seniors can call 775-331-3663 or visit fbnn.org to determine which program best fits their eligibility and needs.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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