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Can NYC alleviate food insecurity among its oldest population? (OP-ED)

The rising cost of food has left more and more families struggling to keep themselves fed but in New York City, a population of seniors are finding themselves at the forefront of this food crisis.

According to Business Insider, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are increasingly likely to have issues with food security. 

A recent joint survey by the non-profit Citymeals on Wheels and CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute revealed that around 48 percent of people surveyed said they experienced some food insecurity in the past 12 months.

The survey sampled 500 New Yorkers over 60 who either belonged to an adult center or had received home-delivered meals. According to City Meals, 56% of the participants used government assistance services like SNAP for groceries. That said, most have revealed that SNAP benefits were not enough to service their needs.

This is likely due to the high costs of delivery and restaurants, which have risen due to inflation. Additionally, when it came to grocery shopping, 41 percent of participants claimed to sometimes or never grocery shop. Participants who barely make more than the threshold of SNAP benefits are also facing difficulties, putting a strain on their ability to support themselves and keep themselves fed. Additionally, a recent AARP study has found that one-quarter of U.S. adults over 50 don’t expect to retire. 

“Far too many people lack access to retirement savings options and this, coupled with higher prices, is making it increasingly hard for people to choose when to retire,” said AARP’s senior vice president of research Indira Venkateswaran to Fortune. “Everyday expenses continue to be the top barrier to saving more for retirement, and some older Americans say that they never expect to retire.”

New York City must help keep its residents’ mouths fed, either with more non-profit assistance, or reforming the SNAP programs to help those struggling under its current rules. Thankfully, organizations like Citymeals are helping to tackle this problem.

“Food insecurity has reached a crisis point for many older New Yorkers,” said CEO of Citymeals on Wheels, Bethesda Shapiro. “Our research points to clear and necessary steps that must be taken to end this crisis. Hunger is a solvable problem, and we are determined to help those in need. Citymeals is committed to ending hunger among older adults in New York City by 2040. And we are calling for a broad community response to make this happen.”


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