Over 6,000 Las Vegas-area residents 60 and older will have access to groceries at food sites valley-wide through Three Square’s Golden Groceries program.
The initative was created to provide healthy, supplemental groceries, according to Lisa Segler, director of senior hunger programs at Three Square. Through it, seniors can choose the amount of food and type that meets their nutritional needs, Segler said, adding that it restores a sense of independence and dignity among seniors. Food items include lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh produce along with easy-to-eat items such as healthy soups and whole grain cereal, Segler said.
“For the past 10 years we’ve had another program called Senior Care — a box program where volunteers packed boxes of food for senior citizens,” Segler said. “We had a donor come forward and give us money in the name of senior hunger, which allowed us to turn that small box program from serving 714 seniors to 20 client choice pantries now serving about 6,600 seniors just out of those specific pantries and more total.”
The initiative is part of the department’s overall effort to combat hunger among the 24,000 seniors who lack food in Clark County, Segler said.
“It’s usually your average run-of-the-mill person who’s struggling,” Segler said. “We’ve often come into contact with seniors who have purchased homes they can no longer afford, so they are house-rich and cash-poor. They even live in a nice part of town but don’t have any extra money to buy food.”
Nolga Valadez oversees the call center that senior citizens contact to find pantries close to them. Valadez saw firsthand the impact of senior hunger as parents got older, she said.
“We were struggling with Medicare and trying to figure everything out,” Valadez said. “I realized how misinformed me and my parents were. That happens a lot with the seniors who call us. They don’t know what to do and many of them don’t have family who can help. My family had me, but some people don’t have that. It draws me closer to to this.”
Seniors interested in participating in the Golden Groceries program can call 702-765-4030 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays to find a pantry close to them that best fits their needs. The organization plans to add home delivery soon, Segler said.
“Seniors have done so much to pave the path for younger people,” Segler said. “This the best way to honor and help them meet their special needs. We hope to be able to serve thousands more and keep up with the rapidly growing senior population. We also want to explore other factors that impact senior hunger such as transportation and loneliness or isolation. By addressing these key issues, we hope to feed more older adults and greatly increase their quality of life.”
How to help
To donate or sign up to volunteer, visit threesquare.org/how-to-help.