FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2013
Contact: Chaunda Ball, 212-407-3732, firstname.lastname@example.org
AARP Releases New Policy Recommendations to Help the Over 70% Likely Eligible Older Adults in Greater Rochester Area Who are Not Receiving Food Assistance
74% of Potentially Eligible Adults 60+ in Monroe/Wayne Counties and 76% in all of Greater Rochester Not Receiving SNAP Benefit; Seniors Face Multiple Barriers to Accessing Help
Rochester, NY – AARP New York joined with a group of hunger and aging advocates, including Meals On Wheels and Foodlink, in Rochester today to release new recommendations aimed at helping the estimated 74 percent of older adults in Monroe and Wayne Counties, and 76 percent in all of the counties making up the Greater Rochester area who may be eligible but are not receiving nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP, and formerly called Food Stamps).
In Monroe and Wayne Counties, as many as 34,000 people over 60 may be eligible, but not receiving the benefit, while across the region (Monroe, Wayne, Genesee, Orleans, Ontario, Livingston and Wyoming counties combined) the number may be as high as 46,000, based on an AARP analysis.
The recommend policy changes outlined in the association’s second white paper on older adult hunger, titled “Hunger Among Older Adults: Breaking Down the Barriers,” encourage New York State to simplify and streamline the SNAP application process for those over 60, use data-driven strategies to identify potentially eligible individuals, and increase the benefit amount by implementing a standard medical deduction for seniors with out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Nearly 500,000 New Yorkers age 60+ receive SNAP benefits, which averages $170 per month for adults age 60 and over, allowing them to maintain good health and nutrition, yet according to census data, an additional half million older New Yorkers could potentially be eligible.
While SNAP is identified as one of the most effective ways to reduce hunger, increasing participation in the benefit can also be a boost to local economies. Every $5 used in SNAP benefits adds $9 to the economy.
“Bringing an end to hunger among people age 50 and over in the Rochester area and in New York State is one of the top priorities for AARP New York and the AARP Foundation,” said Bill Armbruster, Associate State Director for AARP New York. “By implementing these recommendations to increase SNAP participation, we can help the many people 50 and older who face unimaginable choices like paying for groceries or keeping the lights on.”
“Meals on Wheels has witnessed first-hand this paper’s findings—that seniors are often forced to choose between prescriptions, housing costs and meals,” said Phil Shipper, Director of Meals On Wheels. “Food is a basic human need and is critical to sustain the lives of low-income, homebound seniors in our own community. For those who cannot afford Meals On Wheels, the government has provided subsidies, but the need is greater than the funding, especially since funding has been cut and the cost of fuel, food and packaging continue to rise.”
“Meal programs across our state have been forced to start or add to waiting lists for services, decrease meal deliveries and serve fewer and fewer people,” continued Shippers. “This is not a problem that can be ignored and will only get worse as people in our state, in our country and in our community age. I applaud the efforts of AARP as they work to end senior hunger.”
”As a community, we must ensure vulnerable seniors have access to healthy and affordable food,” said Tom Ferraro, Executive Director and Founder of Foodlink. “Through our food access programs and SNAP outreach, we are helping those most at-risk of hunger stretch their limited food dollars. We are proud to partner with AARP and will continue to focus on the well-being of our seniors.”
In Monroe County, 12 percent of residents struggle with food insecurity. The number of Americans age 50 and older facing the risk of hunger increased by nearly 80 percent between 2001 and 2009, totaling nearly 9 million, according to the AARP Foundation. In New York State, nearly one in four adults over the age of 60 and living at home is considered nutritionally at risk.
Some of the barriers preventing higher participation in SNAP among older New Yorkers are the stigma associated with accepting assistance, a fear of the application process, and lack of awareness of the benefit and its eligibility requirements.
The recommendations in the report were formed through discussions among hunger stakeholders attending a year-long series of regional roundtables held around the state, which culminated in a statewide summit in Albany in 2012 convened by AARP New York in partnership with Hunger Solutions New York and with the support of the AARP Foundation.
Recommendations from a 2011 AARP New York and AARP Foundation white paper were successfully implemented, including changing the official name of federal food assistance from Food Stamps to SNAP, eliminating the finger imaging requirement for applicants, and increasing SNAP outreach funding by $1 million.
The full report can be found at www.aarp.org/ny.
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AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.