Monday, May 16, 2011

Senior Hunger

In respect of the 3.4 million Americans age 65 and older living in poverty, I urge you to reach out to your local food bank and help those at risk of hunger.

After a lifetime of work, many seniors are living on fixed incomes that often force them to choose between paying for healthcare or prescriptions and buying groceries. Because they often need the medication to maintain their health, many elderly Americans must forgo the foods they need to stay healthy. Limited mobility and dependence on outside assistance makes seniors particularly vulnerable to hunger.

Food insecurity among this vulnerable population is especially troublesome because they have unique nutritional needs and may require special diets for medical conditions. According to Hunger in America 2010, among client households with seniors, 30 percent have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. Many food banks, like the Second Harvest North Central Food Bank operate mobile pantries or partner with food transport organizations to get food to those seniors that need it most.

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, has served north central Minnesota since 1984, feeding thousands of hungry seniors each year. Food insecurity in north central Minnesota on average is 14.4%, including these seniors facing difficulty keeping themselves fed.

Congress is considering significant cuts to the federal budget, putting nutrition assistance for low-income seniors at-risk. Earlier this year, Congress wisely rejected cuts to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which helps Second Harvest North Central Food Bank provide nutritious monthly food packages to 2,319 seniors each month. Cuts to CSFP and other federal nutrition programs would make it much harder for our food bank to safeguard local seniors from hunger, and we urge Congress to protect nutrition programs from cuts.

Feeding America is the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the country. Through its network of more than 200 member food banks, Feeding America serves 37 million hungry Americans annually, including 3 million seniors.

To find out how you can join the fight against hunger, please visit

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