Asking for Help at 94: The New Face of Hunger

Asking for Help at 94: The New Face of Hunger image

Robert Herrmann, 94, shops at the Rushville mobile pantry in May.

Nearly 5 million older adults face hunger in the United States every day. If that number surprises you, you likely aren’t alone.

On a recent visit to a mobile pantry in Rushville, several seniors waited in line on a warm, sunny day. This mobile pantry serves about 150 families each month. More than half of those are senior citizens, some of whom are raising grandchildren. In one case, a great grandchild was living with her grandmother until another family member could drive to Indiana to take her to live with their family in Illinois.

We asked some seniors in Rushville about SNAP and other issues related to food insecurity, health, housing and transportation. One gentleman, in particular, stood out.

Robert Herrmann is a 94 year old Rush County native who comes each month to the mobile pantry. He gives hugs and proudly said that if he didn’t show up one month, half the town would come looking for him.

Mr. Herrmann worked all his life in a variety of jobs: construction, farming, manufacturing, lawn care. He was unable to serve in the military due to a bad heart and laughing, said that when he tried to enlist, they told him he probably wouldn’t live past 40. “Guess those military doctors were wrong about me!” he said.

He relies on the mobile pantry because he isn’t eligible for SNAP. “I make $109 a month too much,” he said. “Can you believe that? It’s because I worked all my life and have a small pension.” Like other seniors in line, Mr. Herrmann struggles with the cost of his medications and his Medicare supplemental insurance.

As the line started to move, Mr. Herrmann gave one more hug, smiled and started toward the registration table. “I really don’t know what I would do without this pantry and the kindness of the community. People here look out for each other and this Gleaners truck is where I get my fruits and vegetables. Maybe that’s why this old bad heart keeps ticking!”