Iowa Hunger Summit Shines Light on Growing Problem of Older Adult Hunger
AARP Foundation President Commends Iowa's Volunteer Hunger-Relief Efforts; Challenges Organizations to Look for New Alliances to Meet Growing Need
DES MOINES, Oct. 17, 2012 - Hunger among older Americans has increased nearly 80 percent over the past decade with nearly 9 million people - including one in every 11 Iowans over the age of 50 - facing the risk of hunger every day, Jo Ann Jenkins, president of the AARP Foundation, told the more than 500 community volunteers, and business, civic and religious leaders on Tuesday at the Iowa Hunger Summit at the Des Moines Marriott.
In battling the hunger crisis for older Iowans, Jenkins said new allies must be found where hunger and other issues intersect. "At the Foundation, we focus on the interconnected problems of hunger, housing, income and isolation," Jenkins said. "We have targeted these four issues because they occur so often - and so often they occur together."
Jenkins reported that between 2007 and 2009, there was increase of almost 40 percent in the number of Americans ages 50 to 59 at risk of hunger. And, she said, up to 20 percent of working-class older adults earning $30,000 to $35,000 a year are also experiencing food insecurity.
"Older adults who are hungry don't walk around with a big red 'H' on their shirts," Jenkins said. "Like many of us who would be in that situation, they are too embarrassed to ask for help."
The problem of senior hunger has deepened as the status of older adults in the job market has worsened, she said. "The unemployment rate for Americans 50-plus has doubled in just the past four years," Jenkins said. "People 50 and older lost their jobs more frequently than younger workers and have stayed unemployed longer."
Jenkins recognized Iowa for having the second highest volunteering rate in the country, and for the critical work Iowa anti-hunger volunteers and organizations are doing to fight against hunger in Iowa and around the world. "The national media likes to refer to Iowa these days as a battleground state. I see it as a common ground state, where people come together to look out for their neighbors, to reach out to people in need, to fight hunger, to solve problems."
Jenkins' address at the Iowa Hunger Summit coincides with the 2012 launch of an AARP Foundation and AARP Iowa joint initiative to help older Iowans in need get access to nutrition assistance programs.
Because more than two-thirds of older Iowans who are eligible for help buying food have not signed up for the program, AARP Foundation and AARP Iowa are partnering with the Iowa Food Bank Association and the Iowa Department of Human Services to contact older Iowans in 19 counties with high food insecurity. More than 50 AARP Iowa members have volunteered to help outreach to enroll older Iowans in need in these counties. The Iowa Department on Aging, local Area Agencies on Aging, local congregate meal sites and the Iowa Department of Public Health are also collaborating on this new outreach effort.
A copy of Jenkins' keynote remarks, "Senior Hunger in America: An Analysis and a Call to Action," delivered at the sixth annual Iowa Hunger Summit, organized by the World Food Prize Foundation, will be posted at www.aarpfoundation.org
About AARP Foundation
AARP Foundation 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. By coordinating responses to these issues on all four fronts at once, and supporting them with vigorous legal advocacy, the Foundation serves the unique needs of those 50+ while working with local organizations nationwide to reach more people, work more efficiently and make resources go further. AARP Foundation is the charitable affiliate of AARP. Learn more at www.aarpfoundation.org.
(CONTACT: Ann Black, AARP Iowa, 515-697-1003, email@example.com)