Enid Borden is the founder and President and CEO of the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger.
Chances are that, if you are reading this right now, then you are inquisitive and concerned and engaged — even visionary. Why do I say that? Because that is the kind of person it takes to acknowledge the fact that hunger exists in our country, to desire to learn more about it and, I hope, to want to help do something about it. And not just hunger generally; or soley hunger among children that so many folks know about and are working to address; but also this far less frequently discussed national problem—namely, senior hunger.
When I say "senior hunger" I am not referring only to hunger among individuals who are 80 and 90 years of age. Many of these folks certainly do face the threat of hunger. But so do the so-called "young old." Let me be clear here. I am talking about the baby boomers, yes, baby boomers, who are now a part of the rapidly growing elderly population in America and all across the world. In fact, this aging trend is advancing so rapidly that by 2045, for the first time in the history of the planet, there will be more older people in the world than children, according to a report conducted by the United Nations. This will be true for the United States as well, and not just countries on the other side of the globe.
This growth in the number of older persons will present its own set of problems. Some of them will be new; others will not. They will be the same problems that we are already dealing with today . . . but unsuccessfully and inadequately. Senior hunger is one of those. Research makes that clear.
On May 22nd, our organization, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), together with Feeding America will jointly release a report entitled Spotlight on Senior Hunger 2011. This report, based on research conducted for NFESH by Dr. James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Dr. Craig G. Gundersen of the University of Illinois, provides substantial and disturbing evidence that not only has the senior population grown but so too has the rate of food insecurity among seniors. In other words, the rate of growth of seniors threatened by hunger continues to exceed the rate of growth of the senior population. That is the serious problem we face today and the dire prospect for the future. Unless we take action to change things.
In addition to furnishing important statistics about how many seniors are food insecure, our joint report also calls attention to important characteristics and risk factors. Despite my more than two decades of work in this area, such facts and figures never cease to astound and sadden me. They also strengthen my resolve to continue this work. Research moves us toward a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding and contributing to senior hunger, which in turn assists us in our efforts to find and implement sustainable, tangible solutions to break the lifecycle of hunger.
Those solutions begin in conversation and dialogue and are rooted in partnerships like the one that NFESH and Feeding America have forged. But we need more partners at the table who are willing to confront the unacceptable and find ways to change it. In other words, we need you.
Let's roll up our sleeves, muster our courage and bolster our determination together to take on and win this fight. Our Nation's seniors and generations to come are depending on us.Tags: Senior Hunger