Addressing Senior Hunger 

“For service providers and policy makers to fully understand how best to serve the aging population, older adult issues need to be illuminated and demystified. The senior population in Arkansas will only continue to grow, and it is past time for the state to develop long-lasting strategies to eliminate hunger and food insecurity in the older adult population.

There are many groups around the state doing amazing things for the older adult population suffering from food insecurity and poverty. Unfortunately, those supportive services are often centrally located, which makes it very difficult for seniors living in rural communities to access them. If groups already serving seniors commit to identifying food and health needs and are armed with tools to address those needs, we can work together to eliminate hunger in the senior population and better tackle the negative impact poverty has on healthy living.

An end to senior hunger will require all invested parties to support and strengthen existing programs [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP,) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP,) Social Security, Medicare Savings Programs, Nutrition Programs, Home-Delivered Meals, Medical Clinics, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Coupons, Commodities, Double up Food Bucks at the Farmers Market, In-home Health, and Low-income Housing, Food Banks, etc.].

Charitable organizations do not have the capacity to serve the entire senior population in need, but they have an important role in filling the gap between those eligible for programs and support and those who are not due to punitive policies. Programs with proven effectiveness like SNAP, home-delivered meals, congregate meals, medical savings programs, and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program must be supported and information about how eligible seniors can participate must be distributed where seniors live, work and play.

Health, nutrition, physical activity, social supports, mental health, food, transportation, education about resources, and reducing stigma around accessing help are all very important when addressing this issue.”

~Tomiko Townley, Older Adult and SNAP Outreach Manager, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

[Article and picture excerpted from the February 2017 Senior Hunger Coalition Newsletter]