Thursday, December 20, 2007


It shouldn't be like this.

A recent study found that one in three older New Yorkers lived in fear of going hungry. Many didn't know where they would find their next meal.

The Council of Senior Centers and Services says their study in New York City found that 35 percent of those surveyed worried that they would not have enough to eat.

The council adds predicted growth in the aging population will put further stress on programs.

Amazingly this is the first comprehensive report since the early 1990s to examine hunger among the elderly in the city said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Not so amazingly in this country of ours Black and Latino senior citizens were more adversely affected with nearly twice as many of them then whites saying they faced food insecurity.

This in the United States of America.

Jeez, you work all your life and this is what you get. How can a society treat its elderly like this. It's a shame all of us must deal with.

America's Second Harvest, maybe the largest food provider for the poor in America, put it this way:

"As a nation, we have a special responsibility to vulnerable populations such as the elderly. Older Americans have built the economy and national infrastructure from which we now benefit. Raised during the Great Depression, they went on to defend our freedom in the Second World War and won the cold war. America's older citizens have rightly been called the "greatest generation." It is morally reprehensible that the people that built this country should suffer hunger in a land of plenty, which they helped to create."

"Being hungry is a subtle, personal, chaotic, unpredictable, but often systematic experience," where welfare policies may provide a meal but don't go far enough to help poor Americans rise above welfare says Amy Glasmeier, director of Penn State's Center for Policy Research on Energy, Environment and Community Well-being in University Park, Pa.

National reports on hunger in America amongst all ages say 35.5 million Americans are in the same boat as those older New Yorkers.

But those numbers are considered by activists and anyone with a brain as low.

The statistics undercount the number of Americans who have experienced hunger in a given year, Kathleen Gorman, director of the Center for a Hunger-Free America in Kingston, R.I. told the Christian Science Monitor earlier this month.

For one, America's 744,000 chronically homeless are not counted in the food security survey, and neither are people living on Indian reservations. Hunger among the elderly may also be underreported, experts say, in part because of how older people experience and explain the physical effects of hunger.

The Monitor reported surveys among school nutritionists in Appalachia show that, in some districts, children come to school in the fall weighing 10 percent less than they did when they left school for the summer. "These aren't small groups of people going hungry. These are big groups of people," says Christine Olson, a human ecology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

“The U.S. is the only industrialised nation that still allows hunger within its borders,” said David Beckmann, president of the advocacy group Bread for the World.

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Centre, warned the situation likely has worsened since the agriculture department surveyed the populace in December 2006.

“As costs for food, energy, and housing continue to rise and wages stagnate or decline, households are finding themselves increasingly strapped,” Weill said. “This may mean even worse numbers in 2007. We need to do more to make sure that households have access to healthy food by improving and expanding proven programmes that help.”

Of all the folks running for President this year, the only one I've heard say much about hunger in America is John Edwards. Everyone else is apparently out to lunch.

The following was taken from the web site of Global Action on Aging.

Study Finds 1 In 3 Elderly New Yorkers Fears Going Hungry
NY 1 News December 11, 2007

One in every three senior citizens in the city is either going hungry, or worried about where they'll find their next meal, according to a new study funded by the City Council.

"Not having enough resources to eat in a nutritious way – which is called food insecurity – is a problem throughout the city,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Researchers say black and Hispanic New Yorkers reported the most serious levels of hunger, ranging from skipping meals to going hungry altogether.

The report also found that seniors ages 60 to 64 worried the most about their next meal and were more likely to report weight loss.

Those surveyed said existing food programs are inadequate.

City leaders say changes must be made within the senior citizen community, such as making Meals on Wheels a fully funded program and a guaranteed right for every senior.

"Enough with waiting lists! We have hundreds of people on waiting lists – they're 80, 90 years old and over. Why would anyone in this city want a senior to be on a waiting list for a home-delivered meal? We actually don't think that anybody would," said Bobbie Sackman of the Council of Senior Centers & Services.

Another recommendation was to allow senior centers to provide meals off site, anywhere seniors congregate.

"I think that we're at a point, when it comes to senior nutrition, that we have to bring the meal to the senior,” said City Councilmember James Vacca.

The study said seniors may be reporting hunger because thousands don't receive Social Security or Medicaid. The study also found a widespread under-utilization of food stamps.

The City Council funded the study, which was performed by the Council of Senior Centers and Services. About 800 people over the age of 60 took part. All of their data was gathered last winter in 15 different communities across the five boroughs.

In the months ahead, Quinn promises the council will look at the study's recommendations, trying to find a solution to the city's hunger problem.

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