What happens when the woman who took care of you can no longer take care of her most basic needs? When the man who stayed up worrying about you won’t trouble you with his everyday struggles?
Six million older Americans face hunger. And each day millions of older adults are forced to choose between buying groceries or the medicine they need.
Hunger among older adults is a growing problem, it doesn’t respect age and it doesn’t discriminate. Hunger can affect anyone.
The statistics are alarming: Between 2006 and 2008, the percentage and number of poor and near-poor elderly with very low food security more than doubled — from 4.7 percent to 10.1 percent, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute.
AARP believes that no one of any age should go hungry. The AARP Foundation has been working to identify solutions to this challenge and will continue to shine a light on this issue and encourage research into the causes and consequences of hunger in older Americans.
In the coming months, the AARP Foundation plans to launch an anti-hunger initiative that includes:
- Distributing outreach and planning toolkits on helping older Americans who are food-insecure;
- Working to simplify and eliminate barriers to enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and
- Encouraging and helping older adults apply for SNAP benefits. While more than 7 million older Americans are eligible for SNAP, fewer than than one-third — approximately 2.4 million individuals — are actually receiving benefits.
The AARP Foundation will also strive to improve the quality and variety of food available in our food pantries; ensure that homebound seniors and those with limited mobility have access to home delivery or transportation to affordable food sites like grocery stores or SNAP offices. We will also focus on diverse communities. While older Latinos and African Americans are disproportionately affected by hunger, many don’t know of the assistance available.
As the charitable arm of AARP, the AARP Foundation strives to improve the lives of older adults in the areas of hunger, housing, affordable utilities and medications. We won’t stop until the most fundamental needs of today’s struggling seniors are met.