More than 9 million seniors in the U.S. struggle with hunger.
That’s more than 9 million too many!
The statistics on food insecurity and hunger among America’s seniors are alarming and heartbreaking.
They should spur us on to action.
In 2014 it was estimated 3 million households with seniors lived in food insecurity — which means they don’t have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food — and 1.2 million households with seniors living alone were food insecure.
Feeding America reports
- 60 percent of seniors are more likely to experience depression
- 53 percent of seniors are more likely to report a heart attack
- 52 percent of seniors are more likely to develop asthma
- 40 percent of seniors are more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure
In addition, “food insecure seniors were 2.33 times more likely to report fair/poor health status and had higher nutritional risk.”
SNAP May Help, But Only if They Use It
According to the National Council on Aging, over 4 million low-income adults over age 60 rely on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to stay healthy and make ends meet.
On average, they receive $113 per month to help put food on the table.
The unfortunate truth is that 3 out of 5 seniors who qualify for SNAP don’t participate in this program. That means more than 5 million seniors who could get this help are not.
Thousands of people are working to do something about that through local organizations such as Meals On Wheels.
We can all help seniors by promoting and supporting March for Meals, a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of senior hunger and encourage action at the local level.
March for Meals
In March we have the opportunity to learn more about how Meals on Wheels serves the seniors of our country as we celebrate the March for Meals.
2016 marks the 14th annual March for Meals, which hopes to bring awareness, volunteers and fundraising to sustain these community based organizations so that they can continue to feed and provide a valuable safety net for millions of homebound seniors.
Across the nation, Meals on Wheels is a system of independently run programs that provide home-delivered meals and a daily safety check-in to the seniors they serve.
Meals on Wheels provides
- nutritious meals
- peace of mind for long distance caregivers
- reduced hospital stays for seniors
- reduced medical costs with fewer ER trips
- delay need for facility care
- improved quality of life with nutrition, socialization and independence for aging in place
- volunteer opportunities
Some programs, depending on their funding and community support, also provide pet food, home repairs and transportation to the doctor.
Volunteers Get More Than They Give
For some of the seniors who receive a meal from Meals On Wheels, it is often the only hot, nutritious meal they get each day.
It may also be the only other person they will see that day!
You can imagine how fulfilling it is to be the one able to hand them that meal and give them a smile.
It would not be exaggerating to say that you are a life saver!
Our grandparents loved the time they spent delivering Meals On Wheels, not just bringing food to seniors who could not get out but the opportunity it gave them to spend time chatting with people who often don’t get many visitors.
They even received an award from the local organization recognizing the fact that they delivered meals longer than anyone else had, especially considering they volunteered into their 80s.
We wish there were a local Meals On Wheels organization where we live so that we could help.
Getting Involved with Meals on Wheels
Those seeking to provide a hand for seniors in your local community, perhaps even your own senior loved one, should check with the Meals On Wheels Association of America to find out if there is an organization in your community and, if so, how to get in touch with them.
If you are a long distance caregiver and feel separated from the hands on caregiving of your own senior, delivering Meals On Wheels in the local community can be an outlet. You can volunteer to help other seniors in your community by volunteering with Meals on Wheels near you.
You can make a difference even with just one day each month.
Because time is in short supply for many, you can also make a difference with a financial donation to support their efforts.
Meals On Wheels is also a great cause for support by local youth organizations and school or church groups with their community projects and fundraising efforts.
Not only is it a way to make a difference locally, but it can bring the generations together for mutual understanding and appreciation.
Alone we can’t solve the hunger problem for millions of seniors but we can make a difference to those in our communities!