Food insecurity among seniors increases

Food insecurity among seniors increases
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As Ohio’s population continues to age, Ohio’s food banks are experiencing increasing demand for help with food for seniors.

                        

As Ohio’s population continues to age, Ohio’s food banks are experiencing increasing demand for help with food for seniors. That trend is reflected in the newest research released by Feeding America, "The State of Senior Hunger,"which found food insecurity among seniors and older adults across the country remains more prevalent than prior to the Great Recession.

Ohio’s rate of food insecurity among seniors age 60 and older was 7.8 percent, compared to 7.7 percent nationally. The research found seniors are nearly four times more likely to be food insecure if they are renters rather than homeowners and more than twice as likely to be food insecure if they have grandchildren in the home. Additionally one in four seniors and older adults with disabilities are food insecure.

Food insecurity for older adults age 50-59 in Ohio is a particular problem with 15 percent struggling with food insecurity, ranking Ohio ninth nationally. More than four in 10 of those older adults are living with disabilities, and about half are not homeowners.

“This research clearly demonstrates the interconnectedness of food security and poverty-related issues,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “When individuals reach their near-retirement and retirement years and are trying to survive on limited, fixed incomes — often without assets like their own home or retirement savings — there’s nowhere else for them to turn. We can’t rewind the clock for them, but we absolutely should provide them the basic security of adequate, nutritious food, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it will save taxpayers money in the long run in the way of reduced health-care costs and nursing home stays.”

More than 200,000 Ohioans over age 60 are food insecure, and another 240,000 between age 50 and 59 also are struggling to afford enough food.

“When seniors enter our food pantry lines, they don’t leave them,” Hamler-Fugitt said. “Our promise is that we will provide wholesome food to keep them from going hungry. It’s the most basic and critical promise we can make as a state. And our food banks need help to keep that promise.”

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks is seeking increased funding in the 2020-21 state biennial budget to support a Comprehensive Approach to Hunger Relief.

For more information visit www.ohiofoodbanks.org/news/budget.php. To view the full "State of Senior Hunger" report and related research, visit www.feedingamerica.org/stateofseniorhunger.


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