Health, hunger and older adults

A senior receiving food from a pantry.
May 23, 2016
by Margaret Isham

With Baby Boomers entering retirement, seniors are becoming America’s fastest growing age group, which also means that the rates of senior hunger will likely increase in years to come. And seniors facing hunger often struggle with much more than getting enough nutritious food to eat. Hunger in America 2014 informs us that nearly two-thirds of households with seniors served by the Feeding America network have had to make the difficult decision between paying for food and paying for medicine and/or medical care each year. This is especially troubling when you look at the rates of diet-sensitive chronic disease among households including a senior. 

May is Older Americans Month, a month that reminds us to turn our attention towards raising awareness of the 7 million seniors, age 60 and older, who use the Feeding America network of food banks each year. Seniors do a lot for our communities; approximately 760,000 older adults volunteer at Feeding America affiliated food pantries and meal programs across the country each month.

We know that diet-sensitive chronic disease is a major concern amongst many seniors. Our research reports 41 percent have a member with diabetes and 70 percent have a member living with high blood pressure. When food insecurity manifests into or exacerbates a medical issue, we know that financial hardships only lead to more difficult tradeoffs between the basic needs necessary for living a healthy, strong life. It is important that we work together to ensure that seniors receive the nutrition assistance they need; advocating to close the close the Senior SNAP Gap is one way you can work towards solving senior hunger. In addition, has compiled targeted resources, such as the new MyPlate for Older Adults guidelines

Are you looking to learn, share or discuss the intersections of food insecurity, nutrition and health? This brief, illustrative video illuminates the cycle of food insecurity and how nutrition and health play a major role. Additional resources, including a Discussion Guide and Toolkit, are also available. Working together, we can solve senior hunger.

*Margaret Isham is a nutrition associate at Feeding America.

Tags: Fighting Hunger in Action , Senior Hunger

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