Older Americans Act: Updated Information on Unmet Need for Services, GAO, 10 June 2015
… says there are about 17 million low-income (below 185% of poverty level) older adults (over 60) in the US. About a quarter of them are food insecure. And of those who are food insecure, most (83%) don’t receive meal assistance.
Food insecurity was defined as:
“Individuals are considered food insecure if they report three or more food-insecure conditions, such as worrying that food will run out before getting money to buy more, skipping meals because there wasn’t enough money for food, or not eating for a whole day because there wasn’t enough money for food.”
Some of their findings:
- An estimated 90% of low-income older adults do not receive meal services.
- An estimated 83% of low-income older adults who are food insecure do not receive meals.
- An estimated 83% of low-income older adults who have difficulties with two or more daily activities do not receive meals.
- About one in five people age 65 and older potentially need transportation services.
The number of low-income older adults who need meals is growing. In 2008, 19% were food insecure compared to 24% in 2013.
In March, Senator Sanders of Vermont and 32 of his Senate colleagues wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to increase funding for the Older Americans Act programs, noting that:
“The cost of living continues to increase for seniors, particularly for food, medication, fuel and housing. Moreover, the demand is only expected to increase.”
Sanders says there are more than 65 million Americans over the age of 60. That’s expected to hit 92 million by 2030, a 42% increase in just 15 years.
These people … older, poor, hungry, people with disabilities and chronic diseases, people who have difficulty getting out of the house … these people are invisible. They’re invisible to politicians, to the media, to food companies, food writers, food preparers, to society in general.
In a statement on his website, Sanders said:
“A nation is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable including the elderly and children. It is not acceptable that millions of elderly in this country are living in poverty and struggling to feed themselves. Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires we should be expanding nutrition programs and other services for seniors.”