Key Takeaways

  • Every year, NISC's annual Programs of Excellence Awards honor and promote the outstanding programs offered by senior centers across the country.

  • Learn more about Helping Hands Food Pantry, a 2022 Programs of Excellence Award Honorable Mention in the Social and Support Services category.

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2022
  • Programs of Excellence Name: Helping Hands Food Pantry
  • Hosting Organization: Franklin County Council on Aging, Inc., Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Franklin County Population: 51,319
  • 60+ Population: 12,145

About Helping Hands Food Pantry

Of the Franklin County residents served by Helping Hands Food Pantry (HHFP), 90% are 60 or older.  The HHFP offers various food programs such as income-based senior food commodity boxes, senior emergency food boxes to those 60+ years old, monthly food boxes offered to anyone 18+ years old (95% are 60+ years old), and Free Food Friday that is open to anyone 18+ years old and is a resident of Franklin County. 

Free Food Friday offers a shopping experience where participants can choose from fresh produce, dairy, frozen meat, deli, and bakery items. By offering a shopping experience, this ensures everyone has food that they will eat and not be thrown away. This is in contrast to what happens with the many food boxes, which are pre-made and might end up with a portion of food being tossed in the trash because it's not suited to personal tastes.

The Free Food Friday program allows participants to choose items that they will consume without throwing food away. HHFP has grown and in 2022 served 200 family members per week. The total weight of food given out for 2022 was 1,667,608 pounds. This not only benefited the participants by being able to sustain themselves with additional food during the week, but it also brought in need members to the senior center.

The Franklin County Council on Aging was able to form new partnerships and continue to partner with various types of businesses that help either by giving food or monetary donations.  By advertising in various ways, these businesses and agencies reached out to the council to see what they could do to help grow the program. Approximately 15 volunteers help run the food pantry.  Food drives are planned throughout the year that help to keep the pantry stocked.  Grants have been awarded to purchase food. 

Smiling man with loaf of bread

Key takeaways from Helping Hands Food Pantry:

  • Organizers expect advertising will help boost community support for the food pantry. 
  • Partnerships with local businesses benefit the food pantry by resulting in donations of food or money.
  • Providing a personalized shopping experience helps reduce food waste and better serves people's needs.

About the Franklin County Council on Aging

The mission of the Franklin County Council on Aging and the Capital City Activity Center/Meals on Wheels Greater Frankfort is "to enhance senior living for people 50 and above by providing programs, activities and opportunities for education and good health." The activity center "is a safe place where seniors gather to meet friends for coffee, attend exercise classes and use exercise equipment, play bridge and other games, make arts and crafts,  listen to music and guest speakers, dance, and have a hot, nutritious lunch." Services include tranportation, meal delivery, Medicare SHIP counseling, and legal aid.