An agonizing choice: stay hungry or stay sick.
The percentage of 75- to 84-year-old seniors falling into poverty doubled from 2005 to 2009. That was before the recession. Income, for most elderly Americans, comes largely from Social Security. Almost three quarters of single Social Security recipients 65 or older depend on Social Security for all or most of their income, monthly average $1,300 per month. Global AgeWatch reports that income security for U.S. seniors is among the worst in the developed world.
Forbes called it “The Greatest Retirement Crisis in the History of the World”.
The costs of living — basic expenses like food, housing, health care and transportation — are too much for millions of people aged 65 and older to bear. Today’s seniors are often placed in the position of having to choose between food and medicine. In a nutshell: poverty can be fatal.
So what can we do to help find solutions to senior hunger and food insecurity? When do we look at hunger as a health issue? As part of Senior Hunger Awareness Month, here are some small ways everyone can pitch end to help end hunger.
Volunteer: Most food banks have a host of opportunities available year-round; including preparation and distribution. This is a great way to manage your commitment and share in family-driven fun while giving back to the community. Houston’s Food Bank takes volunteers as young as 6-years old, and also supplies School/Youth Group and Corporate Volunteer options!
Donate: If you can’t give of your time, perhaps a financial contribution is an easier fit. For every $1 donated, the Feeding America network of food banks secures and distributes 11 meals to people facing hunger. AARP Foundation serves ages 50+ with their DriveToEndHunger. Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston program provides a home-delivered meal to home-bound seniors over 60 and their spouses.
Eat Out and/or Shop: If you use an AARP Credit Card from Chase, with every restaurant purchase made using the card, Chase donates 10 cents to AARP Foundation in support of Drive to End Hunger (up to $1 million in 2016). Plus, during February, AARP Hunger Awareness Month, Chase will double its donation to 20 cents (up to an additional $100,000). Denny’s will also donate 25 cents to support Drive to End Hunger during February for every AARP Membership Card that is shown at a participating restaurant (up to $250,000). The Souper Bowl of Caring teams up with local grocery stores like H-E-B, Kroger or Randalls to make the purchase of prepared food donation bags a simple addition to your shopping list!
Share Knowledge: If you or someone you know is experiencing hunger, please reach out. The National Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAPS) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. The government funded Food and Nutrition Service works with State agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can make informed decisions about applying for the program and can access benefits.
More than 5 million senior citizens age 60 and older face hunger. Together, with our best talents, we can make a difference!
Chef Angel V