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This article is sponsored by AARP Foundation. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington’s editorial staff. To register for AARP Foundation’s Washington, D.C. Meal Pack Challenge, click here.

More than 10 million older adults in the U.S. face the threat of hunger every day.

If you’re surprised by that statistic, you’re not alone. Even though senior hunger exists in every community across the country, it’s one of America’s best-kept secrets.

Often the result of job loss and other economic challenges, hunger and food insecurity put the American Dream firmly out of reach. Senior hunger is hidden hunger — and hunger is a health issue. Seniors who are food insecure are 50 percent more likely to have diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have congestive heart failure or a heart attack, and three times more likely to suffer from depression.

In D.C., over 20 percent of seniors face food insecurity. They’re making impossible choices between putting food on the table and buying medicine or paying the rent.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can help. On Sunday, September 10, and Monday, September 11, volunteers are invited to join AARP Foundation on the National Mall for the Summer of Service to Seniors Meal Pack Challenge. Part of the Foundation’s larger effort to increase economic opportunities and social connections that help prevent and reduce senior poverty, the event aims to recruit 4,500 volunteers to pack 1.5 million healthy meals.

Both days run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and volunteers will work in teams in 90-minute shifts. Once packed, meals will be distributed to seniors in need throughout the D.C. metro area by the Capital Area Food Bank.

2 days. 1.5 million meals. Are you up for the challenge? Visit mealpackchallenge.org to learn more and register to become a Hunger Hero!

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