Establishment of the NSS, Inc. food pantry program
Recognized food and nutrition insecurity in the elderly/disabled residents at the Davenport H.U.D.-sponsored facility in Hamden, CT.
Nutrition + Food Insecurity
In early 2017 the seniors at the Davenport Residences in Hamden were recognized by the administration to be nutrition and food insecure, as described by the following population demographics:
- A large portion of residents (33-40% or 148 of 360 total residents)) have mobility issues, evaluated by the use of mobility assistance with: a walker (46 of the 148 – 13%), a scooter (10 of 148 – 3%), a cane (42 out of 148 – 12%), a wheelchair (11 out of 148 – 3%), arm of an assistant (8 out of 148 – 2%) or other (11 out of 148 -3%). This impairs capacity to carry heavy loads of grocery supplies.
- Access to food retail establishments was and remains severely limited in the surrounding neighborhood (food desert/food swamp). A free shuttle service to a high price retail grocery store, 3.5 miles away is available two days a week, but not used by a large portion of the residents.
- Use of supplemental prepared meal services was limited; A “free” congregate hot lunch meal service is available Mondays through Fridays in the dining room of the residence buildings, however only used by 6-8 % of the residents. No food is supplied for weekends. Far fewer of the residents are enrolled in the Meals on Wheels or Mom’s Meals programs under Senior Nutrition Programs. A survey of the Davenport seniors revealed that the hesitancy of the seniors to use these services is largely due to undesirable meal plans or poor quality of the meals offered.
- Extremely low poverty status of the residents at the Davenport site. This can be reflected in the participation of numerous residents in all federal and state benefit programs:
- “The Logan Report”, January 2020: Interview with Sandra Kops, NSS founder and president by CT State Senator George Logan outlining the reasons for starting NSS”
The average age of the elderly/disabled population at the Davenport facility has increased from 55 years to most residents in their 70’s and many over 100 years.
Although these individuals are extremely aged, there is a strong wish to cook meals of their personal choosing.
Given overall challenges with access to food supplies in the immediate neighborhood, mobility impairments, economic limitations, and minimal operations of prepared services, the on-site food pantry has grown into its fifth year of operation to serve as many as ½ of the resident population of 311 at various times.
By 2020 the pantry program evolved into a separate non-profit 501c3 entity with its own governing Board of Directors, with the specific name: Nutrition Security Solutions, Inc. (NSS, Inc.).
Support for the food pantry’s operations has been derived from donations from organizations, private individuals, community and federal grants and foundations. The food pantry has a strong nutrition education component along with all food assistance distributions. It is dedicated to enhancing nutrition security in a senior population having poor dietary histories and age-related medical conditions compounding life-long food and nutrition insecurity in impoverished individuals.