Did you know that food security is a struggle for many seniors across the United States? Nationwide 5.4 million seniors are food insecure. Low-income seniors are especially susceptible to food insecurity which can negatively affect their health and well-being.
It’s no secret that nutrition is an important component of a person’s well being. Unfortunately, all too often, food insecurity gets in the way of that. Food security is defined by the USDA as the “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life”.
Food insecurity is a public health problem. Food insecure seniors are more likely to be in poor or fair health. Seniors who are food insecure are also 15% more likely to suffer from a chronic illness.
A Greater Chicago Food Depository survey found that 72% of older adults interviewed were determined to be at “high nutritional risk.” Seniors that are food insecure seniors tend to have lower nutrient intakes and are more likely to have limitations doing regular everyday activities.
Studies show that 38% of food insecure seniors live at or below the Federal Poverty Line. According to Feeding America, 63% of senior households are often forced to choose between food and medical care needs. This can further damage seniors’ health because studies show that health expenditures tend to grow as food insecurity increases.
While cost is a common barrier to quality food for many seniors it is not the only one. Access is a major barrier to food for seniors. Sometimes seniors lack affordable transportation to and from grocery stores. Almost a third of respondents to a Greater Chicago Food Depository survey reported being unable to obtain food because of an illness or physical limitation even though they could afford the food.
Physical limitations can also get in the way of access to food. According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the weight of food is often a problem for older adults who report choosing food items based on its weight. Some reported that they avoid buying more nutritious products like meat, produce, and milk because they are too heavy to carry. Instead they are forced to purchase fewer foods or lighter weight, less nutritious foods.
Unfortunately studies show that is it likely that senior food insecurity is projected to grow 50% by 2025 as Baby Boomers get older. Seniors face unique health and mobility challenges and food insecurity often makes matters worse for seniors as they age. Any proposed solutions to food insecurity and senior hunger must recognize and address those challenges.
Here at H.O.M.E. We provide food access that offers solutions to issues of food insecurity among seniors through our Shopping Bus and Intergenerational Housing Programs. Through these programs seniors have access to healthy food, accessible transportation, carrying groceries, meal preparation, and person-centered support.
You can help decrease food insecurity and improve the lives of seniors at H.O.M.E.! Consider making a gift today.
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