One of the most undernourished populations in the country is its seniors.
In 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, 5.2 million seniors 60 and older in the United States faced hunger. In Florida, 13 percent of seniors were food-insecure at that time, according to a Feeding America report on Senior Hunger.
While many of those individuals qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, only 48 percent of eligible seniors are enrolled.
Treasure Coast Food Bank, in partnership with the National Council on Aging, is looking to change that for seniors in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. Thanks in part to a grant from the NCOA, Treasure Coast Food Bank has screened 1,173 seniors for SNAP eligibility throughout 2021, and helped 706 enroll in SNAP benefits.
“We meet seniors every day who don’t have enough nutritious food,” said Judith Cruz, President and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “For many living on a fixed income, especially in the wake of rising food costs, healthy food options seem out of reach. Many also must choose between buying nutritious food or paying for prescriptions. We don’t want any seniors to face that choice.”
As of October of 2021, SNAP participants saw a modest increase in their benefits, following a USDA review of the cost of a healthy diet, one of the factors that determine SNAP amounts. It was the first such review since 1975.
Treasure Coast Food Bank’s benefit specialists work to educate seniors who could be eligible for SNAP and other assistance and help them fill out applications for the programs. The benefits specialists also assist seniors through the NCOA’s benefits checkup to determine whether they’re eligible for other benefit programs.
“SNAP is one way to help seniors obtain more healthy food, and we want to help every senior who qualifies to receive those benefits,” Cruz said.
For more information or for assistance with a SNAP application, visit stophunger.org/your-plate/, or call 72-489-3034.
ABOUT TREASURE COAST FOOD BANK
Treasure Coast Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization on Florida’s Treasure Coast, providing the community each year with millions of meals valued at more than $50 million through robust programs and in partnership with 400 charitable organizations in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. In addition to emergency food distribution, Treasure Coast Food Bank operates a full roster of direct service programs that not only solve the immediate problem of hunger, but help individuals and families gain long-term food security, better health outcomes, and self-sufficiency. Treasure Coast Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. For more information on Treasure Coast Food Bank, call 772.489.3034, log on to stophunger.org, visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/tcfoodbank, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/tcfoodbank.