Senior Hunger: Why Does it Exist?


Like any population struggling with food insecurity, seniors face hunger for various reasons. Throughout West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, some of the main factors include:


• Low SNAP enrollment rates. In the United States, as few as 45 percent of eligible seniors are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Insufficient SNAP benefits. Many seniors who are enrolled in SNAP don’t receive enough benefits to meet their needs. Others have difficulty making ends meet, but don’t qualify for benefits because they fall above the poverty line.
• High medical costs. The high cost of prescriptions and frequent doctor visits coupled with less than adequate insurance coverage means many seniors often have to choose between paying for food and necessary medical expenses.
• Raising their grandchildren. The financial burden associated with raising grandchildren is a common reason many seniors become food insecure.
Living in rural areas. In rural regions, not owning a vehicle or being unable to drive can greatly hinder food access. Grocery stores are often few and far between, and there is usually no public transportation available.

No matter what the reason, seniors facing food insecurity throughout West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula can turn to Feeding America West Michigan and our partner agencies for the nutritious food they need to maintain their health. Meet some of the seniors who are getting the help they need.


betty recieving food from volunteers

Betty has received food from one of our Mobile Food Pantry sites for many years. Fresh produce is too expensive for her to afford on her fixed income, so she is grateful for the fresh produce she is able to receive at the Mobile Pantry.

“It means a whole lot to be able to come here and get food,” she said.

Thanks to those who support Feeding America West Michigan and our Mobile Pantry partners, Betty can fill her fridge once a month at no cost.

Cookie and Jan

cookie and jan with puppy

Cookie and Jan are neighbors at a local senior living community. Once a month, the friends carpool to attend Luther’s monthly Mobile Food Pantry.

Jan is on food stamps, but only receives $16 a month because of her social security income.

“It covers for your rent, your life insurance, your other insurance — but when that’s done, you don’t have any money,” she said. “We don’t have the money to go out and buy groceries, so this helps me tremendously.”

Cookie concurred: “It really helps.”

Lisa and Fitz

lisa and fitz

Lisa is a caretaker for a man in his 90s named Fitz. The pair is so grateful for the senior lunch program provided by The Salvation Army, a partner agency of Feeding America West Michigan.

Lisa says it’s the perfect outing for Fitz and herself. Both of them are able to grocery shop, participate in activities and eat a balanced lunch in a social setting.

“This program enhances the whole person, and that’s what these seniors need,” she said.

You can make programs like this possible by supporting Feeding America West Michigan.