The number of older adults is projected to increase over the next decade and continue to rise in the following decade. In 2040, there will be 79.7 million older adults, more than twice as many as in 2000.
These changing demographics will have profound impacts on the demand for social services, especially the need for adequate nutrition services as seniors face a number of unique medical and nutritional challenges that put them at a greater risk of hunger. After a lifetime of hard work, many find themselves struggling with health issues on fixed incomes. These individuals are forced to choose between paying for groceries and buying medicine.
“Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans,” a joint report by Feeding America and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, details the effects of food insecurity on older Americans.
The study reveals that when compared to seniors who have enough healthy food to eat, food-insecure seniors are 53% more likely to have a heart attack, 52% more likely to suffer from asthma, and 40% more likely to have congestive heart failure. These conditions almost never exist in isolation and include a swirl of seemingly endless and expensive medical interventions. A small investment in an appropriate diet yields healthier, engaged seniors and vastly reduced health care bills.
The Vermont Foodbank addresses the unique challenges of senior hunger through interventions that take into account the health status, transportation, physical limitations, and dietary restrictions of older Vermonters.
Through food drops at senior housing sites and programs such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, seniors are receiving food once a month where they live, delivered to their doors.
And through our 3SquaresVT Outreach, Vermont Foodbank staff are working with seniors to ensure those who are eligible, receive the benefits they need. The data show that eligible seniors sign up for 3SquaresVT less than those in any other age group, so the Foodbank provides application assistance and works directly with the state to maximize benefits for older Vermonters.
As the proportion of people over the age of 60 continues to grow, the Vermont Foodbank will continue to develop innovative initiatives to get more food to more seniors in need.
Are you or someone you know in need of food help? The Vermont Foodbank offers application assistance for 3SquaresVT. Call toll free 1-855-855-6181.
This information is funded in part by the USDA. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.