by: Lindsay Felsing, Director of Economic Security
September was Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign bringing greater attention to the issue of hunger and mobilizing the public to take action on the issue. Throughout the month, we blogged about senior hunger and how we work to address the problem in partnership with other community-based organizations, we shared the voice of our clients, and we wore orange to show our support for hunger-relief.
Senior hunger is a problem throughout the United States and has worsened over time. Today, 4.8 million older adults face hunger. That’s over 8% of all seniors in the nation. This number has more than doubled since 2001, and it is expected to get worse as the baby boomers get older.
Having a hard time putting food on the table is emotionally stressful and has profoundly negative implications for senior health as demonstrated in this graphic from Feeding America:
Feeding America’s 2014 report on Hunger in America provides demographic profiles of people seeking food assistance through food banks and other charitable sources. In 2014, food banks in Feeding America’s networks served 7 million seniors, and 30% of these households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care in the last year.
So, why do 3 out 5 seniors eligible for food assistance benefits not apply for them? These benefits are, after all, there to reduce hunger and its subsequent side effects. Nationally, 5.2 million seniors who could apply for and receive food assistance are going without and those who do apply do not take advantage of the medical deduction that could make them eligible for larger benefit amounts each month to purchase groceries.
There are many reasons why older adults who are eligible for food assistance do not apply. Stigma, lack of information, misinformation regarding eligibility, limited mobility, lack of transportation, and a complicated application process are just a few of the barriers that contribute to low participation in the food assistance program among older adults.
The MiCAFE (Michigan’s Coordinated Access to Food for the Elderly) program was created in 2001 to address these barriers and increase access to the food assistance program for eligible older adults through outreach, education, and application assistance in the community. Through our Project Healthy Living program, we promote increased intake of fruits and vegetables and physical activity via a four-part educational series designed specifically for senior food stamp recipients.
Take a look at the posts from MiCAFE and Project Healthy Living staff throughout Hunger Action Month to learn more about senior hunger, food safety, local food access, and how you can help combat senior hunger:
- MiCAFE Addresses Senior Hunger
- Safety First: Hunger Action and National Food Safety Education Month Unite!
- MiCAFE Helps Seniors Eat Healthy
- MiCAFE Addresses Hunger Among Homebound Seniors in Detroit
- Farmers Markets and how they address hunger
- Project Healthy Living: Participants in Motion
Hunger Action Month may be over, but the fight against hunger continues. You can help simply by sharing information about the availability of programs or advocating to protect federally funded programs, like food assistance, that fight hunger.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time making ends meet or putting food on the table, call MiCAFE at 1-877-664-2233!
MiCAFE is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, Michigan Department of Human Services, Office of Services to the Aging, and the National Council on Aging. MiCAFE partners with community based organizations to conduct outreach and provide application assistance for the State of Michigan Food Assistance Program and other benefits. If you would like more information on how to become a MiCAFE partner, please call the MiCAFE Call Center at 1-877-664-2233.
Lindsay R. Felsing is the Director of the Michigan Coordinated Access to Food for the Elderly (MiCAFE) at Elder Law of Michigan. She joined Elder Law in 2011 as the Regional Project Manager for MiCAFE, was promoted to Assistant Director in 2012, and then assumed the position of Director in 2013.
Lindsay received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Michigan State University, and then graduated with a MSW in Social Work from University of Michigan in 2010.
Prior to joining Elder Law, Lindsay worked as a Patient Resource Coordinator at the American Cancer Society, and was an Intern Therapist at the Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan. In 2010, she served as an English Teacher in Thailand through the Overseas Educational Group.
Through her work at Elder Law, Lindsay has managed over 100 community partners and 200 volunteers across the state of Michigan – including recruitment, training, and education related to the State of Michigan Food Assistance Program.