Older Americans Month – More seniors turning to Treasure Coast Food Bank for help

Eleanora Marshall receives a food box from Treasure Coast Food Bank

May is Older Americans Month, a time each year to honor the nation’s seniors and the contributions they’ve made to the country. But this year, with inflation keeping food costs high, many of the nation’s seniors are finding it especially hard to make ends meet and more seniors living on the Treasure Coast are turning to Treasure Coast Food Bank for assistance.

Each month, Treasure Coast Food Bank provides thousands of food boxes to low-income seniors to help them supplement their monthly groceries. Treasure Coast Food Bank also has been helping more seniors apply for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Fred Barr with fresh produce from Treasure Coast Food Bank

“This year has been especially difficult for seniors,” said Judith Cruz, President and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “Many of our seniors whose limited budgets might have afforded them a comfortable life in the past are finding themselves squeezed by the high cost of food. We’re seeing many seniors seek help for the first time in their lives.”

Between 2020 and 2021, Treasure Coast Food Bank saw a 53 percent increase in the number of seniors served at its Your Plate Health & Wellness Center in Fort Pierce. In the past months, seniors list the rising cost of food as their main reason for applying for SNAP benefits.

A man selects items at Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Market Fresh on the Move rolling grocery store.

A recent USDA Food Price Outlook for 2022 released on March 31 predicted that the cost of food is expected to increase between 4.5 and 5.5 percent overall this year. In some food categories, the anticipated increases are higher – 16 percent for beef and veal, 12.5 percent for poultry, 5 percent for dairy, 10 percent for fresh fruits and 4 percent for fresh vegetables.

According to an annual report on food insecurity among seniors 60 and older, the rate of food insecurity persisted at higher rates than prior to the Great Recession in 2020, the most recent data available. The annual State of Senior Hunger report was released by Feeding America earlier this month. Among older Americans ages 50-59 the food insecurity rate in 2020 grew to 10 percent nationwide. It’s a 35 percent increase since 2001.

Cheryll White gets food at a Treasure Coast Food Bank mobile distribution

“Many older Americans who were working before the pandemic, especially those who worked front-line jobs, never were able to return to the workforce because their health makes them especially vulnerable to COVID-19,” Cruz said. “Now they’re dealing with very limited resources and rising costs of food and other essentials.”

Treasure Coast Food Bank works with senior resource organizations and housing developments to provide mobile distributions and food boxes on a monthly basis. The Market Fresh on the Move mobile grocery store also targets low-income senior communities to provide another outlet for them to obtain food.

To support Treasure Coast Food Bank’s programs for seniors, make a donation at www.stophunger.org.

ABOUT TREASURE COAST FOOD BANK


Treasure Coast Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization on Florida’s Treasure Coast, providing the community each year with millions of meals valued at more than $50 million through robust programs and in partnership with 400 charitable organizations in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. In addition to emergency food distribution, Treasure Coast Food Bank operates a full roster of direct service programs that not only solve the immediate problem of hunger, but help individuals and families gain long-term food security, better health outcomes, and self-sufficiency. Treasure Coast Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. For more information on Treasure Coast Food Bank, call 772.489.3034, log on to stophunger.org, visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/tcfoodbank, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/tcfoodbank.