Facts about SNAP and Senior Hunger
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Senior SNAP Enrollment Initiative

This national program supports the efforts of community-based organizations to help older adults enroll in SNAP.

Facts about SNAP and Senior Hunger

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In the U.S., over 4 million low-income adults over age 60 rely on SNAP to stay healthy and make ends meet. On average, they receive $119 per month to help put food on the table. 

Here are some more key facts about SNAP and senior hunger.   


Too many seniors are going hungry

  • Millions of older Americans are at risk for hunger. In 2011, 4.8 million Americans over age 60 were food insecure, representing 8.4% of all seniors. 
  • Food insecurity is growing among older adults. The senior food insecurity rate has more than doubled since 2001. It is expected to continue to rise as the baby boom generation gets older.   


Too few seniors are enrolled in SNAP

  • 3 out of 5 seniors who qualify for SNAP do not apply. This means that 5.2 million seniors miss out on benefits. Older Americans who qualify for SNAP are significantly less likely to participate in the program than other demographic groups. 
  • Several factors contribute to the low participation rate. Many seniors face barriers related to mobility, technology, and stigma and are discouraged by widespread myths about how the program works and who can qualify. 


Some groups of seniors are more affected

Seniors are more likely to be food insecure if they:

  • Live in a southern state: 9 of the 10 states with the highest rates of senior food insecurity are in the south (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia). 
  • Have a disability: Almost one-third of food insecure seniors are disabled.   
  • Are younger: Nearly 65% of food insecure seniors are younger than age 69. 
  • Live with a grandchild: Nearly one in every five seniors living with grandchildren is food insecure.  
  • Are African American or Hispanic: 17% of African American seniors and 18% of Hispanic seniors are food insecure, compared to 7% of Caucasian seniors. 


SNAP is a good investment

  • SNAP improves health outcomes. Food insecure seniors are worse off for a wide array of health outcomes. They have lower nutrient intakes and are more likely to suffer from diabetes, depression, limitations in activities of daily living (ADLs), high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, gum disease, and asthma. 
  • SNAP stimulates the economy. Every $1 in additional SNAP benefits generates $1.73 in local economic activity.
  • SNAP supports jobs. $1 billion in SNAP benefits would generate 8,900 full-time jobs.


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