"It is not unusual to find seniors eating cereal for dinner," Jennifer Hinson, the nutrition services manager at Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle. Lifelong is nonprofit that offers programs to people living with chronic conditions. Lifelong received a two-year, $279,646 Hunger Impact Grant from AARP Foundation in December 2011 to provide cooking classes to low-income older people. The goal is to teach older people to cook for one, using foods often available at food banks.
"We see seniors who will frequently run out of food by the end of the month," Hinson told AARP Bulletin.
One reason so many struggling older people are hungry is that only one-third of people age 60+ who are eligible for SNAP, the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps actually receives it. In other age groups, two-thirds of those eligible for SNAP receive it. Many older people are too embarrassed or proud to apply, or think (wrongly) that they will be taking food away from others who need it. Other seniors just don’t know SNAP exists.
AARP Foundation now has pilot programs in five states -- Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Texas -- to educate and enroll older people in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program); in many states, SNAP is still known as food stamps. In 2013, five new states will be added.