Nearly 5 million—or close to one out of every 12—seniors will experience hunger this year, with even more at risk. But there is assistance available. Benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help food insecure seniors over age 60 pay for nutritious food.
That’s why during Hunger Action Month in September, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) is leading a nationwide effort to increase SNAP enrollment of eligible seniors. Together with local partners, NCOA is reaching out to older adults who may be eligible for the program.
According to the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, the number of food insecure seniors has more than doubled since 2001. At the same time, it’s estimated that more than 4 million seniors are eligible for nearly $4.5 billion in SNAP benefits, but they are not enrolled.
There are many myths about why older adults don’t enroll in SNAP, but for some the reason is simply that they don’t know about the program or don’t realize they are eligible. In response to both the growing need and the lack of understanding, NCOA is encouraging seniors and their loved ones to use its online BenefitsCheckUp tool to connect to SNAP. In one simple, free and confidential checkup, older adults can see if they are eligible for SNAP and other benefits, then get instructions and forms to apply.
Since 2001, BenefitsCheckUp has helped more than one million people find more than $1.1 billion in SNAP benefits.
“Our nation’s seniors should never have to choose between paying for healthy food or affording their medicine,” said Lura Barber, senior program manager of hunger initiatives at NCOA. “SNAP helps struggling seniors stay healthy and financially secure, and BenefitsCheckUp makes it easy for seniors to find out if they’re eligible and apply—often right online.”