Bethpage, NY - December 5, 2016 - When it comes to eating a healthy diet, millions of Americans 65 and over face a double whammy: a fixed income, and rising food costs.
Nationally, adults aged 65 and over have an average annual income of $46,627, and they spend more than $5,500 — or nearly 12% —on food. Additionally, this year those who rely on Social Security received just a 0.3% increase in their Cost of Living Adjustment. Their friends just 10 years younger have a greater income (averaging $75,262 annually), and they spend less (9.3%) on groceries.
Island Harvest Food Bank was recently awarded a $50,000 grant to support a National Council on Aging (NCOA) nationwide effort to help older adults struggling to buy groceries apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to supplement their food budget.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that just two out of every five seniors who are eligible for SNAP are enrolled in the program. This means that millions of low-income older adults are missing out on this vital program, which provides an average monthly benefit of $110 to help participants buy healthy food.
Island Harvest Food Bank is one of more than 30 community organizations across the country that is stepping up its efforts to assist seniors in applying for SNAP. The organizations will use NCOA’s free online BenefitsCheckUp® tool (www.BenefitsCheckUp.org) to screen older adults with limited income for SNAP eligibility. Since 2014, the initiative has screened almost 400,000 people for SNAP eligibility, and helped nearly 70,000 seniors apply for SNAP.
“It’s critically important to be part of this proven effort that has the potential to help low-income older adults in Nassau and Suffolk counties improve their health and their financial and food security,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. “Island Harvest Food Bank has a strong history of helping seniors in need. We’re confident that increasing SNAP enrollment with BenefitsCheckUp® and other proven outreach methods will have a profound effect on lives of seniors on Long Island.”
To find out more about SNAP eligibility, contact Maria Quiroga, 631-873-4775, ext. 210, or email.
For more information on NCOA’s senior hunger initiative, visit online.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging. Our mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. Through innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy, NCOA is partnering with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.
About Hunger on Long Island
Hunger is a state in which people do not get enough food to provide the nutrients for active and healthy lives. It can result from the recurrent lack of access to food. More than 316,000 Long Islanders face the risk of hunger every day, according to Island Harvest Food Bank and Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization. Those facing hunger include adults (often working two jobs), seniors and veterans. Unable to make ends meet, they (and their children) are often forced to go without food. Approximately 70,000 individuals seek food assistance in Nassau and Suffolk counties each week through soup kitchens, food pantries and other feeding programs served by Island Harvest Food Bank.
About Island Harvest Food Bank
Island Harvest Food Bank is a leading hunger-relief organization that provides food and other resources to people in need. Always treating those it helps with dignity and respect, its goal is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island through efficient food collection and distribution; enhanced hunger-awareness and nutrition-education programs; job training; and direct services targeted at children, senior citizens, veterans, and others at risk of food insecurity. As a result of Island Harvest Food Bank’s dynamic business model, more than 94 percent of expended resources go directly to programs and services that support over 316,000 Long Islanders facing hunger. Island Harvest Food Bank is a lead agency in the region’s emergency response preparedness for food and product distribution, and is a member of Feeding America®, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. Island Harvest is a four-star-rated nonprofit by Charity Navigator, an independent charity watchdog organization. More information can be found at www.islandharvest.org.