Seniors in Nebraska Struggle with Food Insecurity for the Holidays

***For Immediate Release***
December 20, 2018

Contact:
Eric Savaiano
Program Associate, Economic Justice
Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402)438-8853, Ext. 126
Email: esaviano@neappleseed.org

Seniors in Nebraska Struggle with Food Insecurity

Nebraska’s senior SNAP participation lags behind the rest of the country

LINCOLN — In Nebraska, 8.3 percent of households with seniors (60+) face food insecurity, according to an analysis by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). That’s over 14,000 Nebraska households that do not have consistent access to enough food for healthy, active living. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps reduce food insecurity and improve health and well-being. The program is a lifeline for older adults to keep food in the refrigerator and on the table.

“Worrying about where their next meal is coming from is the last thing our seniors should have to face, especially around the holidays” said Eric Savaiano, Program Associate with Nebraska Appleseed. “Programs like SNAP could be helping seniors make ends meet and we aren’t doing enough to make sure they know about it.”

SNAP participation is uneven among seniors, across the country and in Nebraska. Only 32 percent of Nebraska’s seniors who are eligible for SNAP are signed up for the program, compared to 76 percent of eligible persons in the state. Research shows older adults face a number of barriers to enrolling in SNAP, including not knowing they are eligible and feeling stigma about receiving food assistance.

According to SNAP Maps, an interactive data tool from FRAC, on average, from 2012–2016, 6 percent of households with seniors in Nebraska’s metro areas participated in SNAP, with similar rates seen in senior households in rural areas (5%) and small towns (6%) across the state.

“While food banks and pantries are seeing record numbers of participants, SNAP rolls have stayed steady” added Eric Savaiano. “SNAP is a first line of defense against hunger and more seniors need to know the facts about eligibility and signing up.”

Outreach for SNAP happens formally through the Food Bank for the Heartland and informally at Food Net, Food Bank of Lincoln, and other distribution locations. Policymakers should consider additional ways to ensure seniors are informed about eligibility and benefits through SNAP.

SNAP Maps is based on an analysis of the latest American Community Survey (ACS) five-year data (2012–2016). Each county is grouped by the U.S. Census Bureau into one of three census categories: Metro, Small Town, or Rural. Accompanying the map is an interactive, searchable table that allows users to look at and compare household SNAP participation by state and county. SNAP Maps demonstrates that SNAP matters in every community across the country, regardless of size or demographics.

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