Monday, July 10, 2017

Doing More Than Raising Awareness--Feeding Hungry Veterans

With all the groups out there raising awareness and collecting lots of money for talking, how about you guys put your money where their mouth is and FEED THEM! Want to bet that will go a long way toward changing the title of your charity in a good way?
‘A godsend’: Salt Lake V.A.’s new food pantry is in high demand
The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published 6 hours ago
Green said she was surprised to find only four other VA hospitals nationwide with a food pantry, and those operated only a day or two each month.
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Aaron Hornok selects food at the Salt Lake VA's new food pantry, Thursday June 22, 2017. Research shows one-quarter of vets who got care through VA reported food insecurity in the past month. That's a higher rate than the general population.
Navy veteran Carl Callahan and his wife, Shannon, receive about $1,600 in Social Security benefits each month.

They use it to pay rent and utilities on their South Salt Lake apartment, which the Department of Veterans Affairs helped them find after a stint of homelessness two years ago. They use it to pay their cellphone bills and buy gas for the car. Sometimes they use it to pay medical bills for Shannon, who takes frequent trips to the hospital for her asthma.

By the time the bills are paid, Callahan said, about $100 is leftover for groceries — "if we're lucky."

That's why the couple makes weekly trips to a new food pantry at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Opened in March, the pantry already serves close to 100 veterans and their families per month, said Natalie Green, a VA health care administration trainee who started the program.

Late last year, Green said, she realized the extent of the veteran hunger problem. Some 1.7 million veterans experience food insecurity annually. And for younger veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the food insecurity rate is about 27 percent — nearly double that of the general U.S. population, according to a University of Minnesota study.
"We have veterans coming back with an immense need for support," she said. "We know food and nutrition directly affects health outcomes, yet [access to food] was something that was kind of missing from the whole health picture."

Part of the problem, Green quickly learned, was that VA funds couldn't be allocated for a food pantry. They must be used for traditional medical services. So she had to get creative.
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