By 2060, California’s 60-year and older population is expected to grow at least three times faster than the total population. This rapid growth challenges a state that already struggles with senior poverty. This issue isn’t unique to California. More than 15 million older adults in the United States face economic insecurity. Approximately half of seniors get most of their income from Social Security, and the number of homeless, elderly Americans could triple over the next ten years.
Even older adults who don’t officially fall at or below the poverty line still struggle to keep up with the rising living costs. Nearly one in five adults aged 65 or older in California cannot qualify for government assistance but still can’t afford their basic needs.
These startling statistics reveal many senior adults’ desperate need for support in these challenging times. Here at Elder Care Alliance, we don’t just talk about the problem. We work to actively solve it by providing volunteer services and free food items to older adults in need. One of our flagship programs is the Mercy Brown Bag Program.
How Mercy Brown Bag Combats Senior Poverty
The Mercy Brown Bag Program is run by volunteers who work tirelessly to fill sacks with nutritious foods for seniors. In the last year, Mercy Brown Bag volunteers distributed just under 128,000 bags containing more than 2 million pounds of lifesaving food to those in need. Thanks to the generosity of these helpful volunteers, more than 8,000 hungry seniors received meal assistance with no strings attached.
Each Mercy Brown Bag contains around 20 pounds of life-giving food. The food is selected for its nutritional value and helps older adults stay as healthy as possible despite their low-income situations. Here are some of the types of food found in a typical Mercy Brown Bag:
- Canned goods
- Fresh produce
- Lean protein
- Healthy grains
Seniors receiving these bags don’t need to worry about choosing between their lifesaving medications and purchasing the ingredients required to make a meal. Some people impacted by senior poverty rely on the Brown Bag program to survive.
How to Volunteer
The mantra of “seniors helping seniors” is the crux of the Mercy Brown Bag Program. For approximately 40 years, seniors have been volunteering their time to help other seniors in need. They help to sort and pack bags that will be delivered to 66 different sites in Alameda County alone.
If you’re interested in donating your time to fight senior poverty, there are ways you can be part of the Mercy Brown Bag team. Here are a few of the services you may be able to provide:
- Sort items
- Distribute filled bags to seniors
- Translate written materials
- Assist at distribution sites
- Organize a bag drive
- Help with administrative tasks
- Assist with planning and implementing special events
Contact the Mercy Brown Bag Program today to see how you can put your skills to good use by helping people who are impacted by senior poverty.