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Published March 15, 2024, The Virginian-Pilot

On March 1, a remarkable event unfolded at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach — the Senior Services’ Night of Magic Gala. It was a night filled with elegance, generosity and a shared commitment to end food scarcity among our older adult community. As we reflect on the success of this event, we are filled with gratitude for the overwhelming support from our community.

The gala brought together individuals, businesses and organizations from across Hampton Roads, all united in their dedication to making a difference in the lives of our elderly neighbors. Through their attendance and contributions, they have helped Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia inch closer to their goal of ensuring access to healthy meals for every older adult in need.

The issue of elder hunger is not just about food insecurity; it’s about the dignity and well-being of our older adults who face unique challenges in accessing healthy, nutritious food. Fixed incomes and health conditions can make it difficult to access healthy foods or to prepare meals. The consequences of food scarcity for older adults can be severe, including weakened immune systems, impaired wound healing and an increased risk of falls. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, are also more common among individuals who go hungry for extended periods of time. In addition, the stress of not having enough food can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Through the Meals on Wheels program, Senior Services provides fully prepared meals delivered directly to the homes of homebound older adults. These meals not only nourish their bodies but also nourish their spirits, providing them with a sense of comfort and security.

Senior Services provided more than 225,000 home-delivered meals to those in need last year alone, but more importantly we have a waiting list for older adults who are hungry and cannot access or prepare meals for themselves. That is why we initiated our first-ever charity gala — to raise money to provide food for those who are in need and start to eliminate our waiting lists.

Ultimately, it is important to recognize the valuable contributions that older adults make to our families, communities and our economy. Addressing food insecurity among older adults is an important part of building a healthy, inclusive and resilient community where our older adults can continue to contribute to society for many years to come.

The generosity displayed at the Night of Magic Gala is a testament to the compassion and strength of our community. It reaffirms our collective belief in the importance of caring for our seniors and ensuring they lead dignified and nourished lives.

As we move forward, let us carry the spirit of unity and generosity fostered at the Night of Magic Gala. Let us continue to fight food scarcity and Senior Services’ mission to end food scarcity among older adults by ensuring access to healthy meals, fresh produce and nutrition education.