Two recently released issue briefs underscore the long-lasting and pernicious effects of pandemic-related food insecurity among older adults.
The findings highlight the positive impact of SNAP in combatting food insecurity.
The key to continued program effectiveness is to assure that the program meets the growing demands and rising costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
NCOA and UMass Boston Reports: Enhanced SNAP benefits must be made permanent to keep hunger off older adults’ tables
Media Relations Manager
Arlington, VA (July 13, 2021) — The National Council on Aging (NCOA), the voice for every person’s right to age well, and the Leading Age LTSS Center @UMass Boston today unveiled two groundbreaking issue briefs that underscore the long-lasting and pernicious effects of pandemic-related food insecurity among older adults, especially older women and people of color.
The research suggests that while enhancements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were likely effective in temporarily decreasing pandemic-induced food insecurity among vulnerable older adults, the increased SNAP benefits provided by the American Rescue Plan must be made permanent and reflect increased food costs to overtake the growing number of older households expected to face food insecurity.
“The past is prologue, and this analysis underscores that after a major socio-economic upheaval, such as a recession or pandemic, food insecurity among vulnerable older adults grows and remains higher than before the catastrophic event,” said NCOA President and CEO Ramsey Alwin. “We need to take hunger off older adults’ tables by making enhanced SNAP benefits permanent.”
The first issue brief, Food Insecurity Among Older Adults and the Role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), highlights how the most recent recession in 2008 affected food insecurity among people over 60 and how those levels of hunger persisted even 10 year later.
“These findings are staggering because the COVID-19 pandemic has already had grave economic and health consequences, and we can reasonably expect that older women and people of color will continue to be the hardest hit in the coming decade,” said Susan Silberman, PhD, Senior Director of Research and Evaluation at NCOA and a report author.
The second issue brief, The Effectiveness and Adequacy of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Reducing Food Insecurity During an Economic Downturn, shows that although SNAP is effective at reducing food insecurity and skipped meals, SNAP benefits have not kept up with the rising cost of food and there are still a substantial number of older adults who are skipping meals despite being enrolled in the program. It also underscores how the roughly $12 billion in new funding allocated to food assistance programs under the American Rescue Plan should remain in place permanently and be enhanced to reflect rising food prices.
“The findings highlight the positive impact of SNAP in combatting food insecurity, but the key to continued program effectiveness is to assure that the program meets the growing demands and rising costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, while putting a sharper focus on reducing racial/ethnic inequities.”
Marc Cohen, PhD, Co-Director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the national voice for every person’s right to age well. We believe that how we age should not be determined by gender, color, sexuality, income, or zip code. Working with thousands of national and local partners, we provide resources, tools, best practices, and advocacy to ensure every person can age with health and financial security. Founded in 1950, we are the oldest national organization focused on older adults. Follow us at @NCOAging.
About The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston
The The LeadingAge LTSS Center @ UMass Boston conducts research to help our nation address the challenges and seize the opportunities associated with a growing older population. The LTSS Center is the first organization of its kind to combine the resources of a major research university with the expertise and experience of applied researchers working with providers of long-term services and supports (LTSS).