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Senior use of Northland food shelves has doubled over last five years

The 42 area food shelves served by Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, along with its own Hermantown Area Food Shelf, have seen use among seniors double over the last five years.

This increase is part of a larger national trend in which 1 in 12 or 4 million seniors struggle with hunger in the U.S.

"I think this trend is particularly troubling," said Shaye Moris, executive director of Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. "Studies have shown that seniors who struggle with hunger are more likely to be at risk of chronic health conditions like depression, heart attack, asthma and congestive heart failure. This certainly isn't a plight we want our Northland seniors to face."

As part of May's Older Americans Month, Second Harvest along with Feeding America and its network of 200 food banks nationwide are raising awareness of senior hunger. Collectively, they provide over 563 million meals to seniors age 60-plus annually as part of their programming to address the unique challenges that seniors face.

"We know that many of our Northland seniors, after years in the workforce, now face fixed incomes coupled with unique medical and mobility challenges. Often they are forced to choose between paying for groceries or other necessities like medicine and housing," Moris said.

Second Harvest is helping Northland food shelves meet this increasing demand by supplying over 4.2 million pounds of its nationally and regionally donated food annually to their programs. In addition, Second Harvest feeds over 1,100 seniors per month directly as part of its Mobile Food Pantry, Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors and Hermantown Area Food Shelf Programs.