FoodShare Helps Seniors Stay Healthy
When Ann retired, she didn’t think she would have to make hard choices between paying the bills and buying food. She had saved up while she was working as a public school teacher, and she took a part-time job at a technical college after she retired. Unfortunately, some difficult family circumstances led to her finances not being what she expected for her “golden years.” She was having a tough time stretching her budget to pay all the bills and keep food on the table.
Ann’s story is becoming more and more common. About 1 in 12 seniors now experience food insecurity, which is double the number who faced food insecurity in 2001. There are a number of reasons seniors may have a hard time putting food on the table. Seniors often live on fixed incomes and may have to make tough choices between paying the bills and paying for food. Disabilities can also make it more difficult to get to the grocery store or food pantry, and unexpected medical costs can eat up hard-earned savings.
When seniors are food insecure, their health suffers. A recent study found that seniors who are food insecure consume fewer calories and nutrients than seniors who are food secure. Food insecure seniors are also more likely to report certain health conditions, like having a heart attack or asthma, and are more likely to have limitations in carrying out Activities of Daily Living. These are typical daily activities that people can usually carry out independently, such as eating, dressing, and bathing.
Even though more seniors are facing food insecurity, two out of every three eligible seniors don’t enroll in FoodShare. There are several factors that may explain why so few seniors enroll. Unfortunately, many seniors feel a sense of stigma about applying for and enrolling in FoodShare. Others don’t know about the program or assume they won’t be eligible.
FoodShare is part of the community safety net that helps seniors stay healthy. It helps Ann stretch her budget, so she can pay her bills on time and still have enough to eat. If you know a senior who has hit hard times, please have them call the FoodShare Helpline at 1-877-366-3635 or submit their contact information using the Contact Us form on this website.