Helping our kupuna access heart-healthy foods
Older Kauai residents (Kupuna) are often the quiet segment of our community frequently receiving less attention than other community groups. Yet many seniors face significant challenges to their health and well-being, including insufficient income, transportation, health care and food, especially nutritious food.
Food insecurity for seniors is a growing problem. Between 2001 and 2013, the number of older Americans that experience uncertainty over where their food would come from more than doubled nationwide. One in six seniors now face the threat of hunger. Due to our rural geography and limited public transportation, the kupuna on Kauai are at particular risk of being unable to access enough food.
Over that past few months, Get Fit Kauai’s Kupuna Healthy Food Project held focus groups were held with several seniors that frequent the Kauai Independent Food Bank (KIFB). In addition, using the curriculum for “Grinding for Wise Dining”, cooking classes were held to educate the Kupuna population on nutrition and easier ways to assure a healthy diet, with an emphasis on healthy, local food and food provided by the KIFB. Information was gathered to better understand the preferences, opinions and experiences at the KIFB.
Recently Get Fit Kauai and Kauai Independent Food Bank partnered together to ask community members to help kupuna access heart healthy foods. A comprehensive media campaign was launched to:
- Educate how valuable Kupuna are to our community and family structures; and
- Further educate and encourage the Kauai Community as to the specific healthy food donation items that are needed at the Kauai Independent Food Bank or Fire Stations that will directly benefit Kauai’s Kupuna when they receive their monthly bag of groceries.
The message being: The next time you’re at the grocery store, please shop for and donate: fresh fruit or fruit cups in 100% juice or water, fresh vegetables or low sodium canned alternatives, whole grains, and low sodium meats such as light fish and chicken. Bring your donations to the Kauai Independent Food Bank warehouse in Nawiliwili or to any county of Kauai fire station.
“Thank you, Get Fit Kauai and the Kauai Independent Food Bank, for helping us take care of our Kupuna like how they care for us keiki.”