Each year, America’s senior population grows, and with baby boomers hitting their “golden years” there’s little need to explain why this phenomenon is happening.  The older American population is expected to grow 147% between 2000 and 2050.  In Illinois we are estimated to have 12,901,563 seniors according to 2008 administration on aging data[1].  However, with this jump in population there is also a risk that the level of poverty among seniors will grow as well.
A study by Feeding America done in February 2010 took a look at food insecurity in America.  They found that “30 percent of client households with seniors indicated that they have had to choose between food and medical care and 35 percent had to choose between food and paying for heat/utilities.”  They also found that 3.6 million older Americans live below the poverty level and 1.3 million were deemed food insecure[2].

These stats really hit home when you think about the low income seniors living right here in Chicago.  In the Oakland community the average income is $13,243 per year[3].  There is a significant amount of seniors who live in this community which means the need here is a lot greater than in some other areas of the city.  This level of poverty means the seniors in this community may not be receiving the nutrition they need.  A 2002 study of elderly women who lived below the poverty line showed that rising food costs, transportation, and shopping difficulties all inhibited them from getting the proper nutrition that they needed.[4]
With that in mind, Chicago Cares has created a Senior Diner’s Club at the Lake Parc Place Apts building in the Oakland community.  Lake Parc Place Apts is a family Chicago Housing Authority building.  This mixed income building houses low income seniors who are primarily living off their modest social security and pension checks for income.  Senior Diner’s Club was created in conjunction with the building to ensure that these seniors receive a healthy and hearty dinner once a month.  This program encourages socialization among the senior residents and provides them with the proper nutrition.
The Senior Diner’s Club at Lake Parc Place Apts takes place on the second Thursday of every month from 6:15 to 8pm.  If you’re interested in volunteering or leading this project and making an impact within the senior community please contact Rosie Drumgoole at rdrumgoole@chicagocares.org.

[1] http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Aging_Statistics/Census_Population/Population/2008/index.aspx[2] http://feedingamerica.org/faces-of-hunger/hunger-101/senior-hunger.aspx[3] http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Oakland-Chicago-IL.html[4] http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0887/is_9_21/ai_92519604/?tag=content;col1