Nearly 5.5 million seniors in the United States and 12% of Utah seniors struggle with hunger. Since 2001, hunger among seniors has increased by 45%. This number is expected to grow to more than 8 million by 2050.
Just like children, seniors require proper nutrition to stay healthy and strong. Not having enough nutritious food is especially damaging, significantly increasing their risk for chronic health conditions like depression, heart attack, asthma, and congestive heart failure.
Senior hunger is complex. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and have limited finances, so they are often forced to choose between feeding themselves and other family members, paying medical bills, or housing expenses.
A real-life example of how complicated this struggle can be is Pat & Red, an elderly couple who worked their entire lives but never made enough to save. They spent what they had to provide for their family. But now in retirement, they are left with a small, fixed income. They depend on their grown children, who have families of their own, to provide assistance. But even with the help of their children, Pat & Red are still unable to make ends meet. They skip meals. They skip medication. Pat is a diabetic. Red has severe, advanced Alzheimer’s and requires 24-hour care.
There are many ways Utah Food Bank is working to support these clients. Our Food Box program is just one of those ways. Last year we delivered over 46,000 food boxes to homebound seniors and people with disabilities. This invaluable resource not only hand-delivers a week’s worth of food, but it also serves as a welcomed visitor by someone who cares about them.
There are many ways to give back to seniors in our communities whose needs can be hard to see. You can give food, time or money this holiday season and make sure everyone in Utah has enough to eat.
To find out more about our senior hunger programs, please visit utahfoodbank.org/programs/