Upon entering the CSRA Hunger Banquet held Feb. 7 at the Master’s Table soup kitchen in Augusta, guests were asked to draw a colored piece of paper from a bowl.
That piece of paper then assigned guests to a table. Some tables were decorated with fancy linens while others were bare. Participants later learned that the color of paper represented the different social classes of life.
Guests were informed that the color they chose would determine the type of meal they would have that night – from lobster and steak to a bowl of rice or scavenging a trash can.
The event, held by Comfort Keepers of North Augusta and Golden Harvest Food Bank, was held to show the reality of hunger in the CSRA, with a focus on senior citizens.
In 2011, there were 2,828 seniors in Aiken County living in poverty, according to data provided by Golden Harvest.
Kay Benitez, the South Carolina development officer for Golden Harvest Food Bank, pointed at a table that had a stack of pet canned food. She then shared a story of a senior who said she buys food for her pet and eats that because it is all she can afford.
Benitez said some seniors have family who forgot them and friends who barely visit.
“They are often alone when it comes to meal time,” she said.
And money is not the only issue that affects seniors’ ability to eat. Benitez said health issues such as vision could keep a senior from being able to drive to the store or see to prepare food. It could also cause them to eat food that is expired.
The event was a kickoff of the local Comfort Keepers franchise to stop senior hunger. Janet Baumgardner, owner of the franchise, reiterated the importance of checking on seniors and making sure they have food or other necessities.
“We are so blessed to be able to serve the senior community …,” she said. “We get to do it every day.”
Comfort Keepers help seniors with chores, medicine, doctor appointments, grocery shopping and more.
Baumgardner asked people to help the seniors in their lives. One thing people should do is check seniors’ kitchen cabinets and look at what they have to eat. If it’s expired, toss it. If it’s good and they don’t want it, donate it to Golden Harvest.
Signs that a senior citizen may need help are bruising, weight loss and loose dentures, she said.
With February being a “love month,” Baumgardner felt it was a good month to remind people to reach out and love a senior through a call or house visit.
The Golden Harvest Food Bank puts together senior food boxes. A box can be sponsored for $13 a month. Stop Senior Hunger barrels were distributed at the event to collect food for seniors.
Anyone who would like to get a barrel or find a location to drop off food can e-mail Rod Barrie at email@example.com or call (803) 279-7100.