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Pasco County Official: '1 in 6 seniors are hungry and food insecure'

Posted at 12:13 PM, Mar 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-07 12:13:14-05

The senior center in Dade City is a hotspot for the 60 plus crowd. When it comes to the afternoon Bingo game, the winner gets the spoils.

"When I came in the first time I noticed they were playing Bingo and it as for day old bread," Larry Wills with Florida Hospital Zephyr Hills said.

There's no goodie bags or gift cards, just donated bread and pastries from the grocery store.

"These people need a little bit," Wills added.

Wills became aware of just how hungry many seniors are when he came to this senior center on behalf of Florida Hospital. He'd come to hand out health pamphlets. He told his boss about what he saw and his boss decided they could help by donating some healthier options. For many in this county, food is not guaranteed.

"1 in 6 seniors in Pasco county are hungry and food insecure," Gabriel Papadopoulos said. He's the director of Pasco County's Community Services.

According to  Papadopoulos, Pasco County's 60+ demographic makes up about 30 percent of the population. About 22,000 of those folks are food insecure. That means they don't have access to nutritional food.  Papadopoulos added the services these people get from the six senior centers are cheaper alternatives than nursing homes.

"It'll cost about $90,000 or more to place a senior in a nursing home, it will cost less than $1,600 to provide this service," Papadopoulos said.

Even with millions of dollars in funding and a newly created non-profit called Feeding Pasco's Elderly, Pasco County Community Services only reach 10 percent of the people who need it. And there's a wait list.

The Florida Department of Elder affairs estimates by 2030, Floridians over the age of 60 will account for 30 percent of the population...more than likely upping the number of people without access to a hot meal as well. 

"We can make a difference with little things and that's all it takes," Wills said.

To donate to the non profit that helps keep the senior centers up and running, visit