Two weeks ago, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) released an important new report, State of Senior Hunger in America in 2011, examining the insidious growth in senior hunger over the past decade. Its findings include some alarming statistics:
- In 2011, 8.8 million seniors nationally faced the threat of hunger.
- This figure represents an 88% increase in the number of seniors affected since 2001 and a 42% increase since the start of the Great Recession in 2007.
- Seniors who are most vulnerable include baby boomers (e.g. the “young old”), grandparents living with grandchildren, women, Hispanics and African Americans, and those who are poor or near poor.
New York’s senior hunger rate (14.78%) was slightly better than the national average of 15.2%.
The report also includes a senior hunger report card evaluating the nation’s progress in reducing senior hunger. The overall grade is an F “due to the nation’s stunning failure in addressing a serious and growing crisis …”
What makes NFESH’s findings especially troubling are the upcoming cuts to SNAP benefits that will affect all SNAP recipients in November, due to the expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act (ARRA) benefit boost. (For more information about the benefit cuts, see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ article SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants in November 2013.) These cuts will only worsen the hunger crisis facing America’s senior population.
In New York State, the SNAP benefit reduction directly impacts half a million seniors; they will likely find it even more difficult to stretch their limited budgets to cover essentials like food, medicine and utilities. So will the thousands of working adults, people with disabilities and the recently unemployed who rely on SNAP to put food on their table for themselves and their children.
Unfortunately, there may be even worse news coming down the pike. Both the Senate and House are proposing further cuts to SNAP as part of the Farm Bill reauthorization – cuts which would once again hit our seniors and other households who are already struggling financially.
Let’s hope our NY Congressional members do the right thing, and vote to preserve, rather than cut, SNAP. Our most vulnerable residents are depending on them.
Want to help? Go to www.stopthehungerclock.org