There are more than 15 million senior citizens over the age of 65 who are at or below the poverty line. They often struggle to pay their health and mortgage bills, and they frequently have a lack of access to transportation or have experienced job loss. Not to mention, older women are more prone to experience poverty than men because of wage discrimination and their roles as caregivers. Luckily, in some parts of the world such as Austria and India, organizations are using baked goods to fight poverty. Here is some information about some of these organizations and what they do.
Eat My Cake
Saloua Sahl, a French graphic designer, started Eat My Cake in Pondicherry, India to provide local women employment and space to build confidence. Sahl moved to Pondicherry to volunteer at a special needs school when she first decided she wanted to give back. The local women in this town experience poverty and toxic male masculinity. When Sahl came up with her idea for the bakery, she knew that the local women grew up in the kitchen, so pastries were not an issue for them to learn how to make. Sahl recounted a situation of abuse when a worker did not show one day because her husband bashed a coconut on her head. Stories such as these are what inspire Eat My Cake to keep going because it gives women the opportunity to garner incomes.
Sahl said, “We don’t have the solution. … The fact that you can have an income, send your children to school … this is the start of the solution.” With the use of personal funds and donations, Eat My Cake opened in December 2016.
Vollpension BakAdemy is using baked goods to fight poverty, specifically elderly poverty in Austria. It does this by employing seniors to host baking courses so they can provide for themselves and rise out of poverty. Since October 2020, Vollpension BakAdemy has provided more than 100 online courses headed by elderly teachers to more than 500 students. Starting on October 15, 2021, the program began offering international courses. For these courses, seniors receive a care package including schedules and hardware before they begin.
The Reason These Organizations Are Important
In Austria alone, poverty affects approximately 226,000 seniors while 542,000 are single seniors. Furthermore, every third person over 65 lives alone.
According to Vollpension, “The [U.N.] increasingly observes poverty and interdependencies in particular in older women in richer countries, as well, due to outdated pension systems, missing credit periods, etc. This is the reason why old-age poverty is becoming an increasingly bigger problem in OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries.”
The idea to use baked goods to fight poverty not only helps people living in under-resourced communities such as Pondicherry, India, find jobs but also restores their self-confidence. Additionally, through using their love for cooking and sharing their secret recipes, many impoverished people in Austria and around the world are lifting themselves out of poverty.
– Dayana Garcia