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Hunger a Growing Problem for Older Alabamians

HUNGRY homeless plea

— Jake Warga/Getty Images

Every day, millions of older Americans go without healthy food. Many must decide between buying groceries and picking up their prescriptions. To make ends meet, they might skip meals, buy processed foods instead of fresh vegetables, or wonder if they have enough money to last the month. Some have mobility limitations that prevent them from shopping for groceries, and further limit their access to a healthy diet.

“Hunger and inadequate nutrition leave older adults vulnerable to poor overall health and chronic diseases, including depression,” said Anna Pritchett, AARP Alabama associate state director for advocacy outreach.

Between 2006 and 2008, the percentage of poor and near-poor elderly with very low food security more than doubled – from 4.7 percent to 10.1 percent – and the current economic crisis is only making things worse. Six million Americans age 60 and older—over 11 percent of all older Americans—suffer some form of food insecurity.

To help ensure seniors and other Alabamians get healthy food, AARP’s Create the Good initiative has been holding food drives in conjunction with events throughout Alabama, and several chapters have collected food for their local food banks. AARP also recently launched a food drive project for all chapters throughout the state.

Hundreds of pounds of food have been collected, and those food drives will continue into 2011. But, anyone can get involved and help older Alabamians have access to healthy meals.

To learn more, download the SNAP Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Create the Good Tool Kit. The kit has all of the information needed to help a neighbor, family member or fellow parishioner get nutrition assistance benefits.

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