Hunger and malnutrition affect families throughout the United States and around the world even in times of economic prosperity, and the need for hunger relief becomes even more dire during periods of recession and high unemployment. As the number of families seeking food assistance continues to grow, seniors make up an increasingly large portion of both the population seeking help and the volunteers providing it. At Northwest Harvest, a hunger relief agency serving all of Washington state, nearly 20 percent of the clients served are over 55 years old, and people over the age of 65 make up a great majority of the volunteer force [source: Northwest Harvest].
Seniors have long served other seniors through Meals on Wheels, an organization of nutrition programs devoted to preventing hunger and malnutrition in the senior population throughout all 50 U.S. states as well as the U.S. territories. As many as 1.7 million volunteers, many of them retirees, deliver more than 1 million meals each day to seniors in need [source: Meals on Wheels].
Retirees also contribute to hunger relief by volunteering with local food banks or through participation in community gardens that provide the food banks with fresh produce [source: Heagerty].