Study highlights importance of federal programs for older adults in Cook County
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides majority of food assistance for low-income people over the age of 65; study shows need for strong nutrition safety net funding in next Farm Bill
CHICAGO, May 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A study released today highlights the importance of federal nutrition programs for low-income older adults in Cook County. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) provides the majority of federal food assistance for older adults—89 percent of federal food assistance in Chicago and 92 percent in suburban Cook County. The data arrives weeks after the Senate released a version of the Farm Bill that would reduce SNAP funding by $4.2 billion.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository commissioned the Social IMPACT Research Center of Heartland Alliance to conduct a study of older adult nutrition program coverage in Cook County. Funded by the Retirement Research Foundation, the study examined federally funded nutrition programs that serve older adults in some capacity: Child and Adult Food Care Program, Congregate Meals, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Home Delivered Meals, SNAP and The Emergency Food Assistance Program. An older adult in need was defined as 65 years or older with incomes at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level—a standard that qualifies many people for federal nutrition programs.
"Older adults face painful choices between paying for food and paying for medicine, or paying for food and paying for rent," said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. "The proposed cuts to the Farm Bill will lead to more hunger. This study underscores the need for strong federal nutrition programs so that older adults in Cook County have access to nutritious food. Federal programs and nonprofit organizations like the Food Depository have key roles in ensuring those over age 65 have the nourishment they need to thrive."
The study shows that when all federally funded resources are considered, there are annually a total of 406 meals per older adult in need in the City of Chicago. In suburban Cook County, there are 268 meals per older adult in need. The city has a much higher number of older adults in need (115,677) than the suburbs (67,768).
The Food Depository distributes nonperishable food and produce to 59 programs—mostly residential buildings—for older adults. Food is free to all residents. The Food Depository also deploys food bank staff to screen older adults for SNAP eligibility.
"This research makes crystal clear that without SNAP, over 180,000 low-income Cook County seniors would be left in the cold when it comes to their ability to access food," said Amy Terpstra, author of the report and associate director of the Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance. "The other programs available to seniors, while playing an important role, simply do not have the same capacity as SNAP to fight hunger and food insecurity."
ABOUT THE GREATER CHICAGO FOOD DEPOSITORY
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago's food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 69 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 145,000 meals every day. The Food Depository's programs and services for children, older adults and the unemployed and underemployed address the root causes of hunger. For more information, log onto chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.
SOURCE Greater Chicago Food DepositoryBack to top