It's become a distressingly familiar story: American family loses a big chunk of income in recession, tightens its belt, often is forced to sell its home (at a big loss). For many, there's a new wrinkle. Increasingly, Americans who had never before sought any public assistance now must rely on government aid to ensure they have enough to eat.
An article this week in USA Today highlights "the new face of hunger in America" - a suburban Seattle family that is applying for food assistance for the first time.
The stats are daunting: The number of Americans who are "food insecure" - the government term to define one's inability to access an adequate amount of nutritious food - surged from 13 million in 2007 to 17.4 million in 2009. One in seven Americans (half of whom are children) are enrolled in the government's largest nutritional safety net program - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). And government-affiliated food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens served more than 37 million Americans, according to Feeding America's 2010 hunger study. This figure is up 46% from 2006.
AARP has been working - and will continue to work - to fight hunger among seniors. That's why AARP Foundation teamed with NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon on Drive to End Hunger, and why the fight against senior hunger is a centerpiece of Create The Good, AARP's one-stop resource for volunteering information and opportunities. Create The Good even has do-it-yourself guides on helping others get the food they need and organizing a food drive.
What are your ideas for addressing hunger in America? What could be done to help more seniors gain access to affordable, nutritious food?