Thursday, 06 September 2012
Elders and Hunger in America
A Gallup survey released last month found that one-quarter of Mississippians at least once in the preceding 12 months did not have enough money to buy the food they needed.
”In 15 states, at least one in five Americans say they struggled to afford the food they needed at least once during the past 12 months,” reports Gallup.
“Nationwide, 18.2% of Americans so far in 2012 say there have been times when they could not afford the food they needed, on par with the 18.6% who had trouble affording food in 2011.”
A year ago, research funded by the AARP Foundation reported on hunger issues with a segment of baby boomers age 50-59:
”Because they are typically too young for Social Security and Medicare and too old to qualify for programs designed for families with children, this age group can be hit particularly hard in bad economic times. In 2009, 4.9 million 50- to 59-year-olds were at risk of hunger, representing a staggering 38 percent increase over 2007.”
On Tuesday, the federal government reported that participation in the U.S. food stamp program (SNAP) was at an all-time high in June – 46.7 million citizens.
"'Too many middle-class families who have fallen on hard times are still struggling,' Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an emailed statement Tuesday. 'Our goal is to get these families the temporary assistance they need so they are able to get through these tough times and back on their feet as soon as possible.'"
And according to the latest of annual studies sponsored by the Meals on Wheels Research Foundation, in 2010, 8.3 million Americans age 60 and older faced the threat of hunger. What is stunning about this number is that it is up 78 percent in a decade and the proportion has increased from one in nine elders in 2005 to one in seven in 2010.
Overall, nearly one in six Americans sometimes goes hungry including 20 percent of children.
And yet, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget includes a cut of $133.5 billion to SNAP, more than 17 percent over the next ten years (2013-2022).
I was reminded about all this when, yesterday, I received a donation request from one of the local groups that feeds the area homeless to which I regularly contribute.
In following up, I discovered that September is Hunger Action Month and a good time for us to pay attention and to do what we can. There are many local food banks and other organizations you can participate in to help either as a volunteer or with funds. You can find yours via zip code here.
In times of great financial crisis, the last budget item that should be cut is food. What could possibly be going on in Paul Ryan's mind?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Feet