The latest study from the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger revealed that 15.3% of seniors — some 9.3 million people, or one of every six of those age 60 and older — faced the threat of hunger in 2012. That is 49% higher than in 2007, before the recession. Only 10 states have more seniors facing hunger than we do here in Missouri.
Perhaps most surprising to many, the study also found that the majority of seniors who face the threat of hunger have incomes above the poverty line and are white. It’s clear that hunger is a pervasive problem that affects every segment of our adult community. White and black, poor and not quite poor, Baby Boomer and Greatest Generation; this is a serious, yet often overlooked threat to our society. For example, the Center for American Progress estimates that complications from hunger increase the costs of illness in the U.S. by $130.5 billion each year.
At the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, we see the impact of this every day. Our dedicated Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver 2,500 meals to homebound seniors every weekday in St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin Counties. These meals provide at least one-third of an adult's daily nutritional requirement, but often they are the only hot meals these seniors have.
This is a problem that is solvable. It is a situation we should not abide. A donation of $100 will help feed a senior for an entire month. Governments — local, state and federal — as well as individual community members should make feeding our seniors a priority. A few more dollars and greater awareness of this growing need will go a long way to ensuring a longer and healthier life for those to whom we owe so much.
Our seniors deserve better, St. Louis.
Mid-East Area Agency on Aging