Learn About Hunger
Millions of Seniors Are at Risk
Nearly 9 million older adults are at risk of hunger — but the depth of senior hunger in America is not widely understood. Why?
First, this is a problem often hiding right in front of us. Older adults who are hungry don't walk around with a big red H on their shirts. Many are too embarrassed to ask for help — or even to acknowledge that they need it.
Second, many people underestimate the day-to-day struggles of those who are age 65 and over, their struggles to make ends meet and have a decent quality of life. It's easy to imagine that Social Security and Medicare provide sufficient protection against a problem as basic as hunger. Yet the average Social Security benefit is just over $1,200 a month — and a majority of seniors today rely on Social Security as their largest source of income.
Third, for all the attention on the severe economic downturn that hit our country, we don't always appreciate how tough conditions have been for older workers. The problem of senior hunger in America has deepened as the status of older adults in the job market has worsened: The unemployment rate for Americans 50-plus has doubled in just the past four years — and people 55-plus who lose their jobs are out of work for an average of an entire year.
In just two years, from 2007 to 2009, there was an increase of almost 40 percent in the number of Americans ages 50-59 at risk of hunger.
Widespread economic suffering has changed the face of hunger in America. It ought to change our thinking about hunger as well.
Hunger in the
(USNEWS, February 13) - US News & World Report reports on the growing trend in the medical community of treating what are traditionally thought of as social problems as health issues, noting “addressing issues like hunger, housing and education can have more of an impact on people’s health than the traditional medical services hospitals deliver.” Read
(Huffington Post, Feb. 12) - Underscoring the “epidemic impacts” of poor nutrition, obesity and hunger on public health, in the Huffington Post, Ambassador Tony Hall, Executive Director of the Alliance to End Hunger, says that hunger “among children, seniors, pregnant women and other adults has an effect on all aspects of wellness, from chronic disease to mental illness.” Read