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Hunger Among Baby Boomers: A Growing Problem

Older baby boomers may be more vulnerable to hunger than other age groups, according to a new report. Credit: gleangenie/morguefile.com
Older baby boomers may be more vulnerable to hunger than other age groups, according to a new report. Credit: gleangenie/morguefile.com
August 28, 2015

DETROIT - As the Baby Boom generation continues its march toward senior status, experts say particular economic and health factors make them more vulnerable to hunger than other age groups.

According to the latest Feeding America report, 13 million adults age 50 and older now receive some sort of charitable food assistance.

Anne Schenk, vice president for advancement at Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, said pre-seniors, as those age 50 to 64 are sometimes called, who don't yet qualify for Medicare or Social Security can fall into a gap where they find themselves with rising costs but diminishing resources.

"It gets harder to get re-employed if you've lost your job, we've seen wages drop, the cost of medical care has risen, and people who are aging typically have more medical concerns," she said.

According to the study by Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, 62 percent of older adult clients at food banks and pantries fall into this age group. Schenk said the food-insecurity rate among older adults in Southeast Michigan rose from 7 percent in 2010, to 17 percent in 2014.

While much older seniors who lived through the Great Depression might hesitate to seek assistance because they feel others need it more than they do, Schenk said, pre-seniors can have other obstacles to seeking help.

"If they haven't had any experience with the social-service system," she said, "they may not know where to go, or how to get help, or that they might qualify for any kind of help at all."

Given that by the year 2040, it's expected that there will be twice as many older adults than in 2000, Schenk said it's all the more important for communities to take care of each other, checking in on older neighbors and relatives and helping to point them toward resources such as food banks and safety-net programs when necessary.

The report is online at feedingamerica.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI