Food insecurity and poverty are serious problems among seniors. Nearly one in five low-income seniors in our state struggles with hunger. Among all states, Maryland has the 8th highest food insecurity rate among low-income seniors.
Health and Hunger among Seniors
Enough food, and health-sustaining food, is important to everyone, but it is especially important when people are particularly vulnerable to disease, or when their life circumstances – such as limited mobility – make obtaining a healthy diet more difficult. Look at these statistics on health and hunger among seniors:
- Food insecure seniors are more than five times more likely to suffer from depression.
- Food-insecure seniors are 27 percent less likely to be in excellent or good health than their food secure counterparts.
- Food insecurity among elders increases disability, decreases resistance to infection, and extends hospital stays.
To make matters worse, hunger complicates health issues for seniors. Many medications need to be taken with food to assure their effectiveness. Too many seniors skip meals in order to purchase medication, only to see the “Take with food” label on the prescription bottle.
The Food Supplement Program and Seniors in Maryland
Maryland Hunger Solutions believes that a key part of the solution to ending senior hunger is to connect more eligible seniors to the Food Supplement Program (Food Stamps).
- In Maryland, the average allotment for seniors (aged 60+) is $113 – a benefit that can help them afford healthy food.
- Although an estimated 1 in 4 Maryland seniors may be eligible for FSP benefits, seniors participate at a far lower rate than other age groups.
- Nationally, only 1 in 3 eligible seniors receive FSP benefits.
Senior Hunger Action Month
In February 2012, Maryland Hunger Solutions declared each February Senior Hunger Action Month in an effort to raise awareness about and take action against senior hunger. Joined by partners from across the state, we have:
- Collaborated with partners to host a Senior Hunger Awareness Event in Cecil County, providing emergency food to 279 older Cecil County residents and assisting with FSP applications for 13.
- Built staff capacity of Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland by hosting an informational training about assisting with FSP applications for their 1,500+ clients.
- Hosted a Senior Hunger Tele-Town Hall in collaboration with AARP Maryland for seniors in Garrett, Frederick, Montgomery, Cecil, Harford, and Somerset Counties, educating over 300 seniors about FSP benefits.
- Advocated for senior benefits through our Paper Apple Campaign.
- Drew attention to senior hunger in Maryland through our Voices of Hunger and Hope video series and annual Food Stamp Challenge.
- Worked with the Maryland Department of Human Resources to advance a standard medical deduction, which would ease the application process and maximize benefit levels for seniors.
Join the Fight with Us! Maryland Hunger Solutions Wants to Work with Your Organization
- Training: We train staff and volunteers on assisting others with an online Food Stamp application.
- Outreach materials: We offer free materials on Food Stamp eligibility, applications, and more.
- Education: We do one-on-one or group informational sessions about Food Stamp eligibility, application, recertification, and more.
- Direct outreach: We directly help Marylanders apply for food stamps.
For more information, contact Rachel Tucker (Rtucker@mdhungersolutions.org, 410-528-0021 ext. 23).