RELEASE – State urged to increase outreach to seniors struggling with hunger

***For Immediate Release***
September 18, 2018

 

Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289
Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org

 

State urged to increase outreach to seniors struggling with hunger

Nebraska seniors who are eligible for food assistance participate in rates below the national average

 

LINCOLN — With Congress needing to pass the 2018 Farm Bill by the end of September, Nebraska seniors (people age 60 or older) have much at stake with the bill’s impact on America’s most-important food security program.

In Nebraska, 8.3 percent of households with people age 60 and older face food insecurity and do not have consistent access to enough food for healthy and active living according to an analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps seniors fight hunger and improve their health by supporting incomes in order to afford essential meals. Nearly 22 percent of Nebraska households who receive SNAP include at least one senior.

“The impact of senior hunger extends well beyond an empty stomach or wallet. Nebraska’s members of Congress need to do everything they can to strengthen funding for SNAP,” said James Goddard, Nebraska Appleseed’s Economic Justice Director. “Furthermore, our state leaders must improve outreach and education about SNAP to make sure the hunger-fighting program is being used to its fullest extent by older Nebraskans who often are forced to choose between buying meals or paying for basic needs like housing or medical care.”

Nebraska falls well below the national average when it comes to eligible seniors participating in SNAP, meaning many older adults are not receiving food assistance for which they are eligible. Nationwide, only 42 percent of seniors who are eligible for SNAP actually participate in the program. In our state, that number drops to 32 percent.

More outreach by the state of Nebraska to seniors eligible for SNAP can help overcome some significant barriers seniors face to receiving the food assistance they are eligible for, including:

  • Not knowing they are eligible
  • Technological barriers in applying for SNAP online
  • Believing they qualify for an amount of SNAP dollars per month too small to make applying worthwhile
  • Stigma about receiving assistance.

“SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger for seniors with low incomes. It is a critical tool to keep older Nebraskans out of poverty and hunger,” Goddard said. “Older people who are eligible for SNAP but do not receive it are more likely to face poor health outcomes, higher hospital and nursing home admissions, and higher health care costs.”

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