The problem is straightforward—some 6 million eligible seniors do not receive the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) benefits that could help them make ends meet.
Participation in SNAP among seniors is significantly lower than other demographics. Only 41% of eligible seniors nationwide are actually enrolled and receiving SNAP benefits. This is in contrast to the general population. Some 83 percent of all eligible men, women and children receive SNAP benefits to help supplement their monthly food needs.
Finding the solution is more complex—older adults face many unique barriers when applying for benefits or seeking help of any kind. Many seniors face increased health issues, limited earning potential or tight fixed-income budgets, heightened nutritional needs, and limited mobility. With benefit applications complex and time consuming; it can be difficult for a senior to complete the entire application process to receive benefits.
Improving food insecurity among seniors is critical. From our senior hunger research, we know that low-income seniors on fixed incomes must sometimes make impossible choices between important necessities, such as medicine, heat or transportation costs. Because food-insecure seniors are not always able to obtain the nutrient-rich food that they need to keep themselves healthy and enable their medications to work effectively, we know that many face significant health challenges.
Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65. Many are retiring with less money than they expected to save, due to unforeseen expenses during our period of economic downturn. Many are caring for grandchildren or aging parents. A great many are happily living longer than they expected, but finding the costs of aging to be insurmountable. These individuals who do so much and continue to give back by volunteering their time and through other means, deserve to age with dignity and wellness.
In addition to providing nutritional meals, providing SNAP outreach and application assistance for eligible seniors is an important way that food banks help address senior hunger. You can help.
By increasing access to good food for seniors, you can help solve senior hunger and ensure older Americans have the food they need to stay healthy and strong.