For Immediate Release
Hunger and Poverty Rises among Older Americans amid Cuts to Safety-Net Programs
WASHINGTON - More than 5 million older Americans struggle to put food on the table, and another 3.5 million live in poverty, according to new analysis PDF Icon from Bread for the World.
“Federal safety-net programs have been instrumental in keeping hunger and poverty at bay for older Americans,” said Bishop Don DiXon Williams, associate for racial/ethnic outreach for Bread for the World. “Yet lawmakers are considering drastic cuts to these programs. Many more Americans over age 60 could have to make tough decisions about their health so they can afford food.”
According to the analysis, “Hunger and Poverty among Older Americans PDF Icon,” the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) have been critical in helping vulnerable older Americans make ends meet. SNAP supplements the food budgets of the neediest people through a debit-like card that can be used at grocery stores or other authorized locations. Available in 39 states, two Indian tribal organizations, and the District of Columbia, CSFP provides monthly food packages designed to supply nutrients typically lacking in the diets of low-income people. Nearly 600,000 older Americans participated in CSFP in 2011.
“Lack of education and social stigma prevent more eligible older Americans from participating in these programs,” added Williams. “Congress must create a circle of protection around these vital programs, which keep Americans over 60 from falling into poverty.”
The House of Representatives recently proposed to cut more than $169 billion from SNAP. In 2010, only 9 percent of older Americans lived in poverty, compared to 28.5 in 1966. This is largely due to the impact and effectiveness of federal safety-net programs. Despite the programs’ many successes, however, many more older Americans live in poverty than are presently accounted for when current housing and healthcare costs are considered. Increasing healthcare costs often mean a difficult choice between buying medication and buying groceries.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. By changing policies, programs and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist, we provide help and opportunity far beyond the communities in which we live.