“Feeding America wants to highlight the increased and profound need for food assistance that affects so many of our senior citizens in need,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “May is Older Americans Month, a time to acknowledge the contributions our seniors have made to our nation, and to make doubly sure, that we are, in turn, doing all we can to help and support them, especially those who are facing difficulty making ends meet and accessing adequate nutrition.”
“We are deeply concerned that as Congress looks for ways to reduce the deficit, cuts to nutrition assistance programs that help low-income seniors are on the table. Already this year, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Budget Resolution that would cut $133.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The House Agriculture Committee recently approved $36 billion in cuts to SNAP. While it is extremely unlikely that the U.S. Senate will act on these pieces of legislation, it nevertheless signals a disturbing trend during a time when the need for food assistance has never been higher,” Escarra said. “Cuts to SNAP, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and other federal anti-hunger and nutrition programs would make it much harder for our food bank to safeguard local seniors from hunger, and we urge Congress to protect nutrition programs from cuts.”
Food insecurity among seniors is especially troublesome because of their unique nutritional needs. Many require special diets for medical conditions. To meet these needs, many seniors at risk of hunger depend on local food pantries for help. Among food pantry clients 65 and older, more than half reported visiting a pantry on a monthly basis, according to Feeding America’s recently released report, “Food Banks: Hunger’s New Staple.” This suggests that the fixed incomes of elderly may be insufficient to provide for their basic needs.
Here are some current facts about senior hunger:
- In 2010, nearly 8 percent of households with seniors (2.3 million households) were food insecure.
- In 2009, nearly 4 million people over the age of 60 lived in food insecure households.
- Seniors are more likely to be food insecure if they:
- Live in a southern state
- Live with a grandchild
- Are African-American or Hispanic
For seniors, protecting themselves against food insecurity and hunger can be more difficult than for the general population. For example, a study found that food insecure seniors sometimes had enough money to purchase food, but did not have the resources to access or prepare food due to lack of transportation, functional limitations, or health problems.