Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011-11-27 "Vallejo seniors combat hunger with community help" by Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
* Soup for Seniors
Canned/dry soup -- drop-off at Area Agency on Aging, 575 Sacramento St. in Vallejo, or at Vallejo Together meetings, Thursday nights 6 to 8 p.m., 1017 Tennessee St.
They came in quietly in twos or threes to find a smiling welcome and a free bag of canned soup and crackers.
The first Soup for Seniors giveaway at the Area Agency on Aging was launched Nov. 16, with little fanfare, but volunteers gave away almost 360 containers of soup in the event's first hour.
"There's a lot of seniors that need extra help with food, and not just in the winter," event organizer Maria Guevara, of Vallejo Together, said at the giveaway. "But in the winter, they get sick and it's cold ..."
California statistically has the most seniors in the country, and Vallejo has the most and poorest seniors in the county, said Florence Douglas Senior Center Executive Director Vicky Conrad. And resources for seniors are only getting thinner, as federal, state and city funding for seniors is cut, even as the U.S. government is expanding its definition of poverty, Area Agency on Aging Direct Services Supervisor Anne Payne said.
The new federal calculation method shifts millions of seniors below the poverty line by incorporating out-of-pocket medical costs in their expenses.
An estimated 20 percent of Solano County seniors do not receive enough income to meet basic needs without assistance, according to the Solano County Status Report on Seniors 2008.
Today's poor economy worsens the problem, Payne said. "There's more poverty, people are losing their homes, losing their retirement -- some of it's just heartbreaking. We want people to remain
independent as long as possible," Payne said. "We're working with a (senior) woman who's living in her car, because her time has run out at the shelter."
The Area Agency on Aging, which serves seniors regardless of income level, is joining forces with Vallejo Together to chip away at local seniors' hunger issues by offering the donated soup once a month. The giveaways are scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on the third Wednesday of each month, and will be dependent on public donations, Guevara said.
For the November event, 360 containers of soup were collected through the joint efforts of Vallejo Together, Hand Maids of the Lord, Emmanuel Apostolic and St. Basil The Great.
"It's good -- it's helpful to us," senior citizen Clarita Alberto said, peering into a plastic bag handed to her at the soup giveaway.
Her friend Cora Baulino nodded in agreement, saying she liked the soup provided.
 Guevara said holding the soup giveaway at nonprofit agency's 575 Sacramento St. office is a great opportunity to connect seniors with services of which they might not have been aware.
Guevara called the Area Agency on Aging a "treasure trove of information." Payne said the new partnership has been nothing but beneficial to the Agency, as well. When seniors come for the soup, they may not need the nonprofit organization's referral, educational and case management services, but they will become aware of its availability for later on, Payne said.
The Area Agency on Aging serves both Solano and Napa counties, but is housed in Vallejo and is most utilized by Vallejo residents, Payne said.
Most senior clients are likely more familiar with the many direct-service organizations that the agency helps fund, like Meals on Wheels Solano County -- for which the Area Agency on Aging provides 65 percent of its annual funding
It also distributes funding to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County and other programs.
For more information on senior services, visit the Area Agency on Aging at 575 Sacramento St., call (707) 644-6612, or go online at

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