OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — “Food insecurity in seniors affects their whole life. It affects their cognitive abilities, their health,” said Aubury Krueger-Kutchara.
Krueger-Kutchara is the director of community engagement with Connections Area Agency on Aging, an organization in Iowa helping seniors live comfortably in their own homes.
A recent study by Northwestern University found 13.5% of adults 60 and older face food insecurity, a sharp increase of almost 60% from before the pandemic.
Krueger-Kutchara has experienced this issue firsthand through her job.
“With seniors, a lot of times people don’t think about it because maybe our seniors are too proud to ask for help, they don’t want anybody to know that they’re struggling. And it all comes down to independence. They don’t want to lose any of their independence," Krueger-Kutchara said.
Disabilities, lack of transportation and living in rural areas all increase the risk for food insecurity in older adults.
Connections helps combat this by hosting multiple meal sites, delivering meals and helping seniors apply for SNAP benefits.
“One of the new programs that they started in Iowa is Iowa Cafe, which is for our communities that maybe don’t have a meal site, smaller communities that might have one restaurant, where the area agencies on aging are partnering with local businesses to provide the meals to the seniors,” said Krueger-Kutchara.
Heartland Hope Mission also works to make sure no senior goes hungry. They have two pantries in the area and do meal deliveries.
Since July of this year, the number of deliveries to older adults has doubled.
“We just had someone that got added to our senior deliveries and their income is only $700 a month, and that’s for everything,” said Pastor Chelsea Salifou, CEO of Heartland Hope Mission.
Salifou said with many retired and on a fixed income, seniors are really having to stretch their budgets, especially with food costs increasing lately.
“They sometimes have to make the decision between, 'Do I buy medicine or do I buy food?,'" Salifou said.
Heartland Hope Mission aims to take some of the strain off of its finances.
“A lot of these seniors never thought when they retired, they would be in a place where they needed help in order to survive," said Salifou.
Visit Connections Area Agency on Aging's website for more information on meal sites.
Click here for more information on the Iowa Cafe program.
Visit Heartland Hope Mission's website to learn more about their resources for seniors and to donate.