According to a recent AARP study, many seniors living in one of the nation's most populated states are struggling to put food on their tables.
Approximately one in four adults over the age of 60 in New York, who are currently living in their own residences, are considered "nutritionally at risk," according to the AARP Foundation. In fact, between 2001 and 2009, there was an 80% increase in the number of individuals 50+ years old who were at risk of going hungry for an extended period of time.
"Many older New Yorkers are suffering silently, for them Thanksgiving can serve up a harsh reminder of their own food insecurity. In every county in New York, the same reality exists; older adults are struggling to keep food in the cupboards, especially as other costs soar, including winter heating bills," said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York State.
Finkel added that there are likely more people who are affected by this issue but are not seeking help.
AARP recently released a report, called "Hunger Among Older New Yorkers: Breaking Down the Barriers" that delved into the reason many are not applying for financial assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Some of the reasons included fear of being stigmatized as "needy," distress about the application process and a limited understanding of the eligibility requirements.
The New York chapter of the AARP indicated that more than 500,000 New York senior citizens receive SNAP benefits. However, based on U.S. Census data, a great deal more should be getting this type of financial assistance.
According to statistics collected by nonprofit organization Feeding America, roughly three-quarters of SNAP recipients include a child, senior or a disabled person. In order to be deemed eligible for benefits, a household has to have a gross income that's less than 130% of the federal poverty guideline, which varies depending on how many people are living in any given residence.