More than 100,000 older adults in Colorado are hungry, or at least food insecure and they qualify for food stamps, but do not use the program.
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Around the country food, fuel and utility prices are souring. Just a couple of years ago, a CNN poll showed that 30 percent of people surveyed nationwide said they were cutting back on food and medicine. That trend continues today and those on fixed incomes do not only have to dip into meager savings as this trend continues; they are putting their health and well-being in jeopardy.
The numbers of people using food banks also is increasing each year. Food banks and soup kitchens report that the numbers of people who pick up free groceries, or stand in line for a free meal increases an average of about 15 percent each year since 2007.
Another indicator of hunger in America comes from the former federal food stamp program, which is now referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Working Americans make up nearly half of all Americans in the program – a category that continues to escalate. But older adults are less likely than any other segment of the population to use the program. Of all people 60-plus, who are eligible to use the program, only about a third actually do.
AARP Colorado is responding by increasing awareness and breaking down the stigma some seniors feel about accepting SNAP benefits.
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being left on the table that are there to help seniors, and we’re going to do everything in our power to reach them and make sure they receive the food they need,” said AARP Colorado senior state director Morie Smile.
AARP Colorado is hosting the Boomer and Beyond Senior Expo at the World Arena (Concourse), 3185 Venetucci Boulevard, in Colorado Springs, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on June 4 to promote food-insecurity awareness and hunger prevention.
In addition, AARP Colorado increased the number of national No. 24 Chevrolet car driver Jeff Gordon’s television commercials that will run in the Denver area during the month of May in an effort to spread the word about hunger and food insecurity. Food insecurity happens when people eat daily, but have no access to fresh, whole foods needed for a balanced diet because they can’t afford such foods, or live in a “food desert,” an area that lacks grocery stores, but is flooded with fast food and convenience stores.