(DailyDig.com) – As American households grapple with food insecurity, thousands of older citizens are increasingly becoming victims of malnutrition and hunger due to a lack of food. Approximately 2.9 homes challenged by food insecurity have an older adult aged 65 years or above. The effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic have made the situation even worse. Many older people cannot afford to eat regularly due to a lack of income or inadequate access to social protection.
In a survey report titled “Feeding America: The Impact of the Coronavirus on Food Security in 2020 & 2021,” food insecurity skyrocketed by 58.8% among America’s older population segment. The report suggested that nearly 5 million American adults are at risk of suffering from nutritional problems due to a lack of access to nutritious food supplements.
While food security among the older population remains high, there are multiple food and nutrition assistance programs that senior citizens can enjoy. Unfortunately, many old adults suffer because they are not fully exploiting these food assistance programs.
Here are three things senior adults in America can do to increase their food benefits.
Number One: Enroll in SNAP/Stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
SNAP is arguably the largest food and nutrition assistance initiative the federal government has ever instituted to fight hunger among vulnerable groups. Beneficiaries of the project get about a $104 monthly allowance that they can use to shop at grocery markets, convenience stores, supermarkets, and different types of retailers.
While the program benefits older adults nationwide, only 48% are enrolled. This figure translates to partly half of the total population of US senior adults. Many older adults are not enrolled in the program either because they assume they are not eligible or because of the wrong perception that the SNAP application process is tiresome and lengthy.
US seniors need to take advantage of this program to maximize their food benefits. Once enrolled, an older person is given a prepaid Electronic Benefits Transfer Card (EBT Card) in which they receive their monthly stipends. With the card, one can purchase food in all types of shops and markets countrywide.
Number Two: Join the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)
This program is intended to supplement SNAP. The initiative helps adults of 60 years and above access locally grown agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables and supplements like herbs. These purchases are made at roadside stalls, farm produce markets, and agricultural community schemes to promote national consumption of locally grown agricultural commodities and the development of farmers’ markets.
The program runs from July 1st to October 31st yearly, according to the Code of Federal Regulations Part 249. It is open to all low-income older citizens and is administered by state institutions like the US Department of Aging.
Number Three: Commodity Supplemental Food Program
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is included in the US rescue plan to assist millions of vulnerable groups in fighting food insecurity. Also called the Senior Food Box Program, the nutrition benefit scheme is open to older persons at least 60 years of age and from low-income communities.
It provides beneficiaries with monthly food packages of around $50. Food packages from this program are not complete meals, but nutritional supplements intended to complement the deficient diet of economically underprivileged populations. Older people who want to maximize their food benefits by accessing nutritional supplements take advantage of the Senior Food Box Program.
A 2022 Report observes that thousands of senior American citizens have inadequate access to food, and tens of food assistance programs have been lined out for the older population segment. To maximize their nutrition benefits, low-income older people only need to exploit these programs fully. NCOA has a free online benefits check-up tool that older people can use to check the food benefit programs they are eligible to sign up for.
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