Healthy Aging

September is Hunger Action Month, and Gleaners is buzzing with lots of activities, events, and fundraising to further our mission in the fight against hunger. September is also Healthy Aging Month, which aligns well with the special programs we offer to help improve food security for our clients ages 55 and older. 

Across the United States, about 1 in 12 seniors face food insecurity - in Indiana that number is 1 in 5. For these individuals, good nutrition is especially critical, but may be challenging due to limited financial resources and declining health and mobility. To help our senior clients overcome these challenges, Gleaners coordinates Senior Mobile Pantries and Senior Shopping Days at various locations throughout our 21-county service area. The food distributed through these programs can help meet the unique nutritional needs of many older adults, including: 
  • Consuming adequate protein, fiber, and fluids to prevent frailty, constipation, and dehydration. 
  • Sources of these nutrients include lean meats, poultry, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, juice, and tea. 
  • Increasing intake of vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D for healthy nerves, red blood cells, bones, and teeth. 
  • Key foods to increase these nutrients include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products, fortified milk substitutes (such as soy, rice, or almond milk), leafy greens, and fortified orange juice. 
  • Limiting sodium consumption to help prevent and manage high blood pressure and heart disease. 
  • Some strategies for reducing sodium include rinsing canned vegetables and beans, limiting the use of condiments and seasonings with salt, choosing lower sodium packaged foods, and eating salty meats less often (such as pepperoni, salami, and bacon). 
This recipe for Black Bean Burgers provides many of the key nutrients listed above using inexpensive ingredients that are commonly found at the food pantry. It was recently shared with Gleaners’ agencies and programs to give clients a tasty idea for using canned black beans. Topped with veggies and paired with a side of fruit and dairy, this simple recipe can make a quick and healthy meal for all ages!