By Stephanie Woods, Empowerment Specialist at Elder Law of Michigan
With the increasing opioid epidemic and the ever-changing family structure, many grandparents are living in the same household as their grandchildren. The report A Place to Call Home by Generations United provides statistics on grandparents and grandchildren living together. In the United States, 2.65 million children live in a home with their grandparents without their biological parents. The state of Michigan alone has over 66,000 grandparents functioning as the primary caregiver. During the holidays, many families experience financial stress and question how they are going to make ends meet. This becomes a larger issue when factoring in 21.8% of “grand-families”, as they have been coined, are living under the poverty line.
The United Way of the Eastern Upper Peninsula (UWEUP) recognizes these stressors and has been helping families make ends meet on a large scale for the past three years. The UWEUP partners with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Lake Superior State University, community members, and many businesses and local non-profits to purchase a food distribution truck from Feeding America of West Michigan right before Thanksgiving. This year’s truck was stocked with 15,000 pounds of food including apples, oranges, grapes, potatoes, peppers, baked goods, and even corned beef.
Pat’s Food, a local grocery store, also offers turkeys at a discounted price to the United Way so families can receive a free turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. The Elder Justice League, a stakeholder group of nonprofits, financial institutions, healthcare workers, and law enforcement agencies in the Eastern Upper Peninsula distribute the food to local community members. With five members volunteering four hours of their day, food was distributed to 348 families. Of those families, 181 have older adults living in the home. Throughout the day there were many seniors with their grandchildren picking out items for their holiday meal.
Feeding America does not have income requirements to receive food from their distributions, they serve any individual who believes they have a genuine need for assistance. Every dollar donated to Feeding America provides four meals for individuals in need. Check out Feeding America for more information on how you can help.
Stephanie Woods is an Empowerment Specialist at Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since January 2019. As an Empowerment Specialist at Elder Law of Michigan, Stephanie works with seniors who are victims of financial exploitation. She refers seniors to needed resources while working with partners to receive referrals of potential victims.