One in Five Low-Income Maryland Seniors Struggling with Hunger
Baltimore, Md. – February 16, 2012 – Nearly one in five low-income seniors in Maryland struggle with hunger, a dubious distinction placing Maryland eighth among states with the highest rates of food insecurity among low-income seniors. To raise awareness about and take action to combat this pressing problem, Maryland Hunger Solutions (MDHS) and AARP Maryland have organized several events and initiatives in February designed to raise public awareness about hunger among seniors, and reach more seniors who may be eligible for nutrition supports like the Food Supplement Program (FSP).
Programs like FSP can help struggling seniors get the nutrition they need, but seniors participate at a far lower rate than other age groups – nationally, only one in three eligible seniors receive FSP benefits. Maryland Hunger Solutions estimates that in Maryland, nearly three in four seniors who may be eligible for FSP benefits are not participating. As a result, they are not receiving nutritional assistance from this vital program.
To help more seniors learn about and apply for this important program, Maryland Hunger Solutions is partnering with Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland to provide every client with information about FSP. Coupled with this, Maryland Hunger Solutions will offer application assistance to Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland clients. It’s estimated that this effort will reach more than 1600 low-income Marylanders with limited mobility – seniors who are particularly vulnerable to hunger.
“It’s unacceptable that one in five low-income seniors in Maryland struggle with hunger, but we are hoping that the concentrated effort we’re launching this month will reverse this trend,” said MDHS Director Cathy Demeroto. “Connecting more seniors to programs like the Food Supplement Program will help them afford healthy food. This is a program that can help, and we are committed to helping all who are eligible learn and apply for these benefits.”
As part of this initiative, AARP Maryland and MDHS will be hosting a Tele-Town Hall on February 23, where Baltimore City seniors can learn about senior hunger in Maryland and how to access benefits. Representatives from the AARP Foundation and the Maryland Department of Human Resources will join Maryland Hunger Solutions Director Cathy Demeroto for a discussion about the challenges of senior hunger in the state and solutions to end it.
“Hunger is a fact of life for many older Americans. One in eight households faces a constant struggle against hunger in Maryland. By declaring February ‘Senior Hunger Month’, we hope to shed a light on the challenges facing many Marylanders as well as the millions of older Americans nationwide,” said AARP Maryland Director Hank Greenberg.
The month will culminate with a senior outreach event – hosted by Maryland Hunger Solutions – on February 28th from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Holiday Park Senior Center at 3950 Ferrara Drive, Wheaton, Maryland. This is Montgomery County’s largest senior center, serving more than 500 older Marylanders each day. Maryland Hunger Solutions staff and other partners will provide seniors with information and application assistance for FSP benefits while distributing food donated by the Capital Area Food Bank. Seniors and other members of the public are welcome.
To learn more about senior hunger in Maryland, visit the Senior Hunger page.