Jessica Smith, interim director, D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living
Jessica Smith, interim director, D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living

Dear Seniors,

As you’ve heard us say in the past, addressing senior food insecurity in the District is a top priority for Mayor Bowser and DACL. And while we’re focused on this all year round, we know food, and access to food, is at the front of many people’s minds during the holiday season. So, as we look to Thanksgiving, we want to take this opportunity to highlight one of our newest partnerships in the nutrition space – the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), who’s at the forefront of ensuring states across the country have access to quality data to inform their nutrition programming decisions.

Jessica Smith

From Enid Borden, CEO, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) 

At NFESH, we’re laser focused on working with states and localities to engage in research methods and practices to find causes and consequences of senior food insecurity, and then to initiate and employ innovative methods that address possible solutions. We are once again proud to be working with DACL in this space. Our academic research team has been charged with conducting a study to examine food insecurity in the District, and to specifically look into the underlying risk factors that changed disproportionally for DC seniors as a result of the Great Recession.

In partnership with DACL, we will be looking at trends specific to senior food insecurity in the District, analyzing the factors associated with the issue, and getting a better understanding of the instabilities in housing, family structures, and other factors related to food insecurity. As a partner in DACL’s work, I’ve been able to see how the agency is using research as a guide in their daily practices and programming to continue to implement innovative practices and methods that address underlying factors that contribute to food insecurity. Our research produces numbers. That data, however, represents real people. Our work with DACL begins and ends with seniors like you. And our work is performed on a national level, as food insecurity is not solely an issue in Washington, DC. It is a nationwide problem that is being addressed both locally and around the country. And while it is not a new phenomenon anywhere, I must say that we’re inspired by how DACL has continued to take the issue seriously and has made a commitment to combatting senior food insecurity through the creation of some of the most innovative programs in the country. Their Food4Choice project is just one such example — a program that is giving select seniors’ choice in their nutritional decisions through grocery card distribution. And I’m proud to note that our work with them on the age WELL pilot project will be a national model of senior nutrition and wellness as we work to address food insecurity with the many community partners that are coming together on this project.

The current state of senior food insecurity in the District has shined a light on an issue that we must all be cognizant of and concerned about. There are many factors that contribute to food insecurity and many, sad to say, are beyond anyone’s control. But throughout our country, and specifically here in the District, organizations like DACL are working diligently to move the needle forward. The senior nutrition programs that are run here in the District and throughout the country are models of public-private partnerships at their best and at NFESH we look forward to working with DACL to use every tool possible to address senior food insecurity in the District and across the nation.

Attend Mayor Bowser’s 24th Annual Senior Holiday Celebration

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