“Hand out” has a pejorative connotation–undeserved assistance, which may foster dependency.

A “hand up,” on the other hand, has a positive ring to it–help toward self-sufficiency.

When it comes to senior hunger, this is a false dichotemy.

Three out of four people we feed have a low income, but we don’t blame them for this.  Many have outlived the money they worked hard to save when they were younger.  Some found their earning power cut off by an injury, illness, or disability.  They don’t look poor, act poor, or think of themselves as poor.  But they need a helping hand, and most are unable and unlikely to increase their earning power.  For them, self-sufficiency means continuing to live on their own rather than being placed in a public-funded nursing home.

They also deserve to have a hand in our program, so we’re starting a “clients’ advocates council.”  We’ll select some dedicated meal delivery drivers who have proven their sincere concern for the well-being of our meal recipients.  We’ll give these volunteers a short list of topics to help them listen to the clients they visit.  Then, periodically, we’ll convene this council to get some informed engagement on behalf of those we serve.