Striving for Better Grades
(Photo courtesy Meals on Wheels)
by Kristen Archer
We can all recall the nervous anticipation of waiting to receive our report cards in school—hoping we were able to bring that C+ in chemistry up to a B, praying we were able to maintain a solid A in history, dreading the look on our parents’ faces when our geometry grade was finally revealed.
Our days of receiving quarterly report cards for our own academic performance may be over, but there is one report card we should take note of: The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger’s Senior Hunger Report Card.
Distributed at an aging conference earlier this week—Perspectives on Nutrition and Aging: A National Summit—the report card grades our nation in eight areas with regards to senior hunger:
- overall performance,
- women’s studies
- multicultural studies
- home economics
- health and physical education
- and ethics.
Surprisingly, the nation failed to score higher than a C-minus in any of the categories.
In the overall performance and economics categories, the report card reveals that 8.3 million seniors faced the threat of hunger in 2010—a 34 percent increase since the start of the recession in 2007. Seniors have a harder time recovering from economic downturns than Americans in general who are facing hunger. Seniors who are women and people of color are disproportionately impacted by hunger. Nearly one-third of seniors living with a grandchild face hunger. These are just some of the alarming figures brought to light in the report card.
The challenge is, with the speed at which the senior population is growing, senior hunger will worsen before it improves if we fail to act. Reports show that the number of adults over age 60 living in the United States—currently 60 million people—will double over the next forty years. In the next 24 hours, 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach age 65. That trend will continue daily for the next 19 years!
Nutrition programs provide a vital lifeline to many struggling older Americans, but these programs are vastly underfunded. Unfortunately, Congress is considering dramatic cuts to programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly food stamps) that support older Americans in the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization process.
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