When thinking of the people most likely to be food insecure, senior adults rarely come to mind. Generally speaking, we tend to believe that seniors are able to reap the benefits of their lifetime of hard work and have people who can take care of them. That is not always the case.
For seniors without children, those who have lost their significant other, or those whose families are facing hard times themselves, life can get pretty tough. Retirement accounts have been challenged and stretched leaving many striving to just afford rent and basic necessities. When family lives far away, assessing the needs of elderly parents or grandparents becomes difficult and adds to the likelihood of a loved one needing assistance.
Seniors living in some of the most affluent areas are struggling. Many purchased their homes when the community was less affluent, lived there for 40 and 50 years, and now find that they are unable to afford the high property taxes and other skewed costs inherent to the area. They are physically and emotionally unable to move out of the only place they know to be home – and eating a decent meal is frequently one of the first sacrifices made.
On our Feeding NJ page, we have compiled vital statistics on some of the facts about hunger in our area. Through this research, we found that more than 25% of seniors live in a household where the income is 200% below the federal poverty level. Think about managing your budget on little over $1,300 a month. Well, the average senior adult has an income of $15,730 a year. And that has to cover their home, utilities, clothes, transportation, medicine, health expenses and food.
Recent statistics show that in the United States, nearly 5 million adults over the age of 60 are food insecure. That means that 10% of all senior adults do not know where their next meal will come from. Even more alarming, projected figures for 2025 suggest the number of food insecure seniors will increase by 50%.
The good news is that we have the ability to help. Much of the nutritious food we rescue is delivered to organizations that feed senior adults in this community. It has been shown that a healthy diet, filled with fresh produce, lean meats and whole grains, helps to stave off some of the negative effects of aging. And whether it’s a church, a shelter, or a local community center, the seniors not only can rely on their next meal, but they also have a chance to socialize and become part of a community, providing a social and emotional benefit in addition to the benefit of physical health.