Seniors face unique challenges with lack of access to transportation, functional limitations, and health problems.
North Carolina has the 5th highest rate of seniors facing hunger: 20%. Some may have enough money to purchase food, but not the resources to access it. With health concerns often increasing with age, 30% of households with seniors served by Feeding America indicated that they have had to choose between food and medical care. Food insecure seniors are also over twice as likely to report fair or poor health status.
Food insecurity is particularly detrimental to seniors because of their unique nutritional needs related to aging and medical conditions. As such, Feeding America reports that seniors facing hunger are at increased risk for chronic health conditions like depression (60%), heart attack (53%), asthma (52%) and congestive heart failure (40%).
Between 2014 and 2034, North Carolina’s 65+ population will almost double from 1.5 to 2.5 million, according to the North Carolina County Aging Profiles. As this number grows, the need only increases for social services and for culturally appropriate nutrition services.
For more on senior health, see Feeding America’s fact sheet on Senior Hunger or the Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Outcomes for Food Insecure Older Americans. Or see this Op-Ed on “A Quiet Hunger” featured in the News & Observer.
In the 7 counties Inter-Faith Food Shuttle serves, over 14,000 seniors are living in poverty and at risk of hunger. Nationally, these rates double when seniors are raising children (e.g. when grandparents are raising children).
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Raise awareness about senior hunger here.
Charitable food assistance alone cannot solve senior hunger. The federal nutrition programs that reach seniors, including SNAP. Sadly, seniors more than any other age group, do not take advantage of SNAP benefits:
- Nationally, only 41% of seniors who are eligible to receive SNAP are actually enrolled in the program
- In North Carolina, just 36% of eligible seniors are enrolled in SNAP