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Older Adults & Hunger - A Growing Problem Among Hispanics

Living in the wealthiest nation doesn’t guarantee food on your table every day and many Latino seniors are going hungry. The Older Americans Act of 1965 – put in place a number of support programs. The program addressed both the social and nutritional needs of seniors, allowing them to eat well while engaging with others. Although it is still in place today, we have not kept the pace with the needs of this growing population, and thus have eroded many of the gains made in the past.

According to the study Senior Hunger in the United States, the states with the highest levels of hunger often have large Latino or African American populations, or they have high concentrations of seniors living at or near the poverty level.

A recent forum on hunger, poverty and aging, organized by AARP Foundation, explored the many issues surrounding senior hunger as well as specific challenges faced by Hispanics. Overall, five million American seniors struggle to have enough food. According to AARP’s Public Policy Institute, between 2006 and 2008 the percentage and number of poor and near-poor seniors with limited access to food has more than doubled – from 4.7 percent to 10.1 percent. The time is now to eradicate senior hunger in America and we must ensure that older Hispanics and Latinos are helped by this work.

Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the severe conditions facing Hispanic households. An estimated 29.4 percent of Hispanics are frequently short on food. This means that Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to go hungry as the rest of the population.

The AARP Foundation forum also revealed that there are some simple solutions that can help stamp out hunger among older Americans.

Work with community groups and food banks to increase awareness of food bank resources and publicize SNAP benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps) in Latino and African American communities. While more than 7 million older Americans are eligible for SNAP benefits, less than one-third – approximately 2.4 million individuals – actually receive them.

Engage local and national leaders and businesses to address senior hunger. You can help, too, by visiting AARP’s www.createthegood.org or www.compartiresvivir.org to find out how to organize a food drive and enroll qualified persons in SNAP.

Ensure that the food available in food banks is culturally and age appropriate by encouraging individual donations of money and food.

AARP is championing a large-scale community food drive. For a complete listing of drop-off locations, people can visit Create the Good.

Older people in America often go ignored, with many of their issues forgotten or overlooked. AARP believes no one of any age should go hungry. It’s time for the nation to unite and take steps to ensure that our cherished elders, our children, everyone, has enough food to maintain their health.

We applaud the important work done every day by volunteers and organizations to make sure that seniors receive critical food assistance because there’s no excuse for anyone to go hungry.

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