Spotlight on Nutrition: Senior Hunger

Millions of seniors in the U.S. experience food insecurity. In Indiana, that number is 1 in 5. As the senior population grows, so will the challenge of ensuring older adults have access to enough nutritious food. Economic constraints lead some seniors to eat less and/or skip meals. Food insecurity negatively impacts health and complicates seniors’ ability to maintain good health while aging.

One strategy designed to help combat senior hunger is SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This governmental program provides economic assistance to eligible families and individuals for the purchase of groceries. According to a recent report from Feeding America, nearly 5 million senior households receive an average of $124/month in SNAP benefits. However, only 2 in 5 SNAP-eligible seniors are enrolled.

We followed up with one senior woman who applied for SNAP at a mobile pantry distribution in Columbus last September. She lives alone and is among 1 in 5 Hoosier seniors that are food insecure. She reported that she was approved for $185/month, and she was actually at the grocery store using those benefits when we called! When asked if she was satisfied with Gleaners assisting with her SNAP application, she said, “Yes, if it wasn’t for you being there and offering to help me apply, I would have never done it.”

In addition to providing SNAP application assistance, Gleaners is committed to providing nutrition education to clients of all ages. The goal is to empower our neighbors in need to make healthy, budget-friendly choices in the pantry, at the grocery store, and in the kitchen - no matter what their household size is. Recently, two IUPUI dietetic interns helped our Nutrition Manager put together a series of nutrition newsletters for seniors that will be distributed at various Gleaners senior program sites. See below for some tips from the winter newsletter on preparing meals for one or two people.