A Growing Number of American Seniors Face Poverty

Filed under: Major Food Issues,Senior Edition |

ElderlyatFLfoodbankOn May 3, 2012 Enid Borden, president and CEO of Meals On Wheels, wrote about her organization’s research report, Senior Hunger in America 2010: An Annual Report. She said, “That first study found that in 2005, about 5 million seniors were under threat of hunger. Five million seniors in 2005 translated into about 1 in every 9. In the space of just five years [from 2005 to 2010] that number has mushroomed, and not just commensurate with the growth of the older cohort of our population but also — and this is perhaps the most disturbing fact — in terms of the proportion of the senior population who stare down hunger’s menacing gaze.”

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Huffington Post has featured a series of intriguing — and troubling — articles about the jump in the number of elderly Americans who face poverty and hunger.

In analyzing Census Bureau information released in early 2011, Ryan Grimm wrote, “What the numbers show is that rather than Social Security benefits being too generous, they are too meager to keep one in six old folks out of poverty.”

David Callahan contributed to the series, writing Broke Boomers and the Coming Crisis of Elderly Poverty on June 19, 2012. In his article Callahan reports that, by 2010, the nest eggs of Americans approaching retirement had dropped 33 percent. The decline in income was stressed further by increasing credit card debt and falling home equity.

On August 9, 2012, Huffington Post writer Laura Rowley described “the hidden hungry,” referring to the 8.3 million Americans over 60 who don’t have enough to eat. The number rose 78 percent between 2001 and 2010, Rowley said.

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In May 2012, U.S. New & World Report confirmed that the proportion of older people living below the poverty line has been growing since 2005. The Urban Institute, too, concluded that “Boomers and GenXers are less likely to have enough post-retirement income to maintain their preretirement standard of living compared with current retirees.”

An bath of NPR broadcasts from WGBH in Cape Cod, MA, addressed the concerns of the thousands of year ’round residents of the resort community who face poverty, including the seniors who sought to retire there on fixed incomes.

The prognosis? Nearly half of all Americans between 60 and 90 will experience poverty. 

When money shrinks, naturally food consumption takes a hit. A report in USA Today quotes Nora Cantele, a 65 year old resident of Colchester, CT, who said she felt like she’d won the lottery when the learned about help available for fuel and grocery expenses.

A report on impoverished seniors in Miami, featured a 77-year old woman who lives in her van. She sold her house, she said, because she couldn’t pay the taxes and other home maintenance expenses.

With one in seven seniors in America in poverty, South Florida food banks feed 150,000 seniors every day. A spokesperson for the “Feeding South Florida Food Bank” says many seniors relegate food to the last item among their needs, sometimes feeding pets before they feed themselves.

BernieSandersIn the following video, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) takes on critics, addressing the root of many
senior hunger issues: money, the inability to get transportation for shopping, the lack of help with every day activities, and other challenges of aging.

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