May is Older Americans Month
According to the study Hunger in America 2010, 30 percent of seniors who rely on our local food pantries for help have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care.
This is now a reality for even more seniors as they find themselves unemployed during the recent economic downturn. Older workers experienced longer than average periods of unemployment and now have less income to spend on necessities as a result of missing out on potential wages, prematurely tapping into social security, or finding themselves with reduced wages after regaining employment.
Although food insecurity—not having access to enough food for an active or healthy life—affects people of all ages, older Americans are particularly at risk because they have unique nutritional needs related to aging and/or medical conditions. To meet these needs, seniors at risk of hunger often depend on local food pantries for help. Among food pantry clients 65 and older, more than half reported visiting on a monthly basis, the highest of any age group.
Charity alone cannot solve senior hunger in our community. In addition to generous private donations and community partnerships, we rely on federal programs, like the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), to supply nutritious monthly food packages to low-income seniors, and help connect seniors to other programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to ensure they have groceries to last them through the month. As elected officials make decisions about state and federal budgets, it’s important that our community know that many of our seniors right here in Southern Arizona rely on both federal nutrition programs and food banks to get by each month.
Together, we can provide hope to seniors and families in need.