Detroit Today

Food Access for Seniors: Aging Together

Monday, September 8, 2014

As part of our ingoing Aging Together series, Laura and Nancy have a panel discussion on the issue of food access and security for seniors in Metro Detroit. Guests include Model D writer Melinda Clynes, Vice President of Programs at Gleaners Community Food Bank Rachelle Bonelli and Director at Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation Pat Baldwin.

They discuss the public health crisis, and specifically chronic illnesses that affect many seniors in Metro Detroit. Some of these health issues, like diabetes, can be addressed through diet. If healthy eating habits can be adopted, and if healthy food is accessible.

However, Clynes points out that for many seniors, accessing the healthy food is the hard part.

“We have seniors in Detroit. There aren’t many markets and it’s hard to get there, and they don’t have a lot of dollars to spend on fresh produce,” says Baldwin. She says that she’s had conversation with seniors who are only able to go grocery shopping once a month, which means canned goods and other foods with a longer shelf life tend to replace healthier options, like fresh produce.

Transportation is also an important component. Many of these obstacles are addressed in the Senior Market Days program, which provides buses and $10 in “senior bucks” to each senior participant who can spend that money on fresh Michigan produce. The program takes seniors to local farmers markets

“At the end of the program last year, when we surveyed seniors they said they would shop at a market if there was one close to them,” says Bonelli. Now, thanks to the Senior Market Days, Detroit’s aging population is beginning to get the help they need to access fresh food, and practice a healthier lifestyle.

Aging Together is a partnership between WDET, MLive and Model D Media that explores the issues of growing old in metro Detroit.

Aging Together is a summer-long project between MLive Detroit, WDET 101.9FM Detroit and Model D Media that explores the issues of older adults in Detroit, Southeast Michigan and the state.