FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 8, 2013

 Contact: Chaunda Ball, (212) 407-3732, cball@aarp.org

AARP Releases New Policy Recommendations to Help the up to 73% Eligible Older Adults in Warren, Washington, & Saratoga Counties Who are Not Receiving Food Assistance

Between 62 and 73% of Potentially Eligible Adults 60+ in Those Counties Not Receiving SNAP Benefit; Seniors Face Multiple Barriers to Accessing Help

Glens Falls, NY – AARP New York joined with a group of anti-hunger advocates, including the Regional Food Bank for Northeastern New York, Hunger Solutions New York, and a host of food pantries and organizations from Warren, Washington, and Saratoga Counties in Glens Falls today to release new recommendations aimed at helping the estimated 62 to 73 percent of older adults in those counties who are eligible but are not receiving nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP, and formerly called Food Stamps).

In Warren, Washington, and Saratoga Counties, between 7,500 and 12,500 people over 60 are eligible, but not receiving the benefit. 

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.

Statewide, 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 these areas and throughout New York State is one of the top priorities for AARP New York and the AARP Foundation,” said Erin Mitchell, 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.  We thank the Regional Food Bank for Northeastern New York, Hunger Solutions New York, and all of the groups who joined us today to help address older adult hunger in the region.”

“Access to healthy food is vitally important in the fight against hunger among older New Yorkers,” said Linda Bopp, Executive Director of Hunger Solutions New York.  “SNAP has a positive impact on the health and well-being of this vulnerable population, and we stand by AARP in their efforts to alleviate hunger for all older adults.”

In the greater Capital region, 14 percent of households without children struggle with hunger.  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.

“The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is greatly appreciative of the work that AARP and the AARP Foundation has done to highlight food insecurity amongst older New Yorkers,” said Susan Lintner, Director of Agency & Program Services at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY.  “Seniors are not only the primary volunteers at our network of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, they are also often some of the most in need, and are often too proud to ask for assistance.  The AARP report highlights the importance of SNAP and breaking down the barriers so that more seniors access a resource that would provide for greater food security for New York’s aging population.”

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.

To get help with applying for SNAP or get connected other food assistance resources the following, visit or visit www.myBenefits.ny.gov to apply for SNAP online.

For one-on-one assistance in applying for SNAP or finding other food assistance resources, visit http://hungersolutionsny.org/find-a-noep to find Nutrition Outreach and Education Coordinators by county.

The full report can be found at here.

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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.

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