Dr Haider Khan in Tampa – The State of Funding for Meal Programs for Seniors in America

2 min

Dr Haider Khan founded the Tampa Florida based BKH Humanitarian Foundation, CHS Center of India, and Community Humanitarian Service Center. These organizations provide programs that’ll feed the hungry, provide medical attention to the needy, and offer educational prospects to communities. In providing services for a broad demographic of local citizens in the Tampa community, the specific needs of the senior population are considered.

Millions of senior citizens living in America are going to bed without a meal as the policies designed to help them fall short of meeting demand. Over 8% of all Americans (around 5.5M seniors) aged 60+ have no steady access to food to meet their nutrition requirements. This number has grown 2x times since 2001 and will only increase as the American population ages further.

Although starving children can be helped via various school policies, older Americans remain in isolation, refusing to ask for help due to pride issues. The Southwest and Southern regions are most affected by this problem. Over 12% and 17% of senior citizens in Louisiana and Memphis respectively are facing a food insecurity crisis.

Government relief programs aren’t cutting it anymore either. The Older Americans Act had been modified in 1972 for providing group and home-delivered meals to senior citizens. However, a rising senior population and economic inflation have rendered it insufficient for meeting current requirements.

When inflation is taken into account, funding for this Act’s nutrition services has dropped 8% during the last 18 years. Group and home-delivered meals have fallen by 21M since 2005. A government report published in 2003 found that a whopping 83% of people facing food insecurity issues received no support at all.

Only around 45% of senior citizens aged 60+ utilize the SNAP program, a food stamp service catering to America’s poorest. Most people are either unaware of their eligibility, mistakenly think their benefits to be insignificant, or lack the ability to reach grocery stores for using these stamps.

A new proposal from the Trump administration, currently under consideration, would lead to the disqualification of over 13% of all SNAP households who have elderly members from obtaining food stamps.

Millions of senior citizens, especially hailing from low-income areas, go without food deliveries from Meals on Wheels, which comprises of over 5000 community programs. Clearing the waitlist alone can take over a year.

Sally Heinz, the head of MIFA (Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association) stated that the condition was quite sad since meals aren’t all that expensive. She was anguished that such issues were still prevalent in 2019.

As malnutrition prevents healing and exacerbates diseases, senior citizens without nutritious, steady food may have to be admitted into a hospital, which only drives up Medicaid and Medicare costs, which hit taxpayers with bigger bills. Seniors may also relapse pretty quickly once they’ve been discharged.

While the Older Americans Act (OAA) funds over 33% of the Meals on Wheels program budget, even with private and public funding pouring in, funds aren’t sufficient enough to feed everyone. As a result, programs have to use score sheets for assigning points and figuring out who requires food immediately. Those staying alone or fresh out of the hospital usually top these waiting lists.

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