WASHINGTON, DC [05/18/23] – Today Congresswomen Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) and Andrea Salinas (OR-6) introduced legislation to make it easier for seniors to access nutritious food and lower their costs for basic needs.
The Senior Hunger Prevention Act will address challenges older adults, grandparent and kinship caregivers, and adults with disabilities experience when trying to navigate federal nutrition assistance programs. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the companion legislation in the senate.
“Seniors need access to nutritious food so they can live healthy lives,” said Bonamici. “Too many seniors and adults with disabilities have challenges accessing existing federal programs - like SNAP - that are intended to support them. Unlike the House Republican’s Default on America Act, our bill will reduce food insecurity and raise the value of SNAP benefits so seniors can live and age with dignity. The Senior Hunger Prevention Act will make it easier to access nutritious food through these programs, which will increase their benefits and lower their food costs.”
“Far too often, older adults are forced to choose between buying food or prescription drugs, or which bills to pay.
"We have a sacred responsibility to our nation’s seniors to support them, which means ensuring they have access to healthy, affordable food,” said Casey. “Federal nutrition assistance is a lifeline for many older adults and the Senior Hunger Prevention Act will help secure that lifeline and alleviate the burden felt by too many trying to afford basic necessities.”
“No one in the wealthiest nation on earth should go without access to nutritious food – and that includes our seniors,” said Salinas. “For too long, older adults and those with disabilities have struggled to equitably access federal nutrition programs, with just two of every five eligible seniors able to lean on key support systems like SNAP. The Senior Hunger Prevention Act bill will help break down some of those barriers to access, ensuring that no one is left behind in House Democrats’ fight to feed America.”
A report from Feeding America found that more than 5 million seniors were food insecure in 2021. Approximately three out of five older adults who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) do not access it, and only 16 percent of the seniors who do receive SNAP use the medical expense deduction to increase the value of their monthly benefit.
"Everyone needs nutritious food to thrive, but millions of seniors have difficulty getting access to the food they need,” said Vince Hall, chief government relations officer for Feeding America. “Every state is home to seniors who experience food insecurity. Existing federal programs can help relieve the strain and stress of senior hunger but only if enrollment processes are manageable and benefit amounts are adequate. Feeding America supports the Senior Hunger Prevention Act, which would help ensure all eligible individuals can participate in SNAP and other nutrition programs that are proven to relieve hunger and promote long-term health and well-being."
“We commend Congresswoman Bonamici for her steadfast commitment to older adults, along with Congresswoman Salinas and 19 cosponsors for their leadership to introduce the Senior Hunger Prevention Act,” said Ellie Hollander, resident and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “By improving access, lowering barriers, and increasing federal nutrition program benefits, this comprehensive legislation would significantly enhance the health and wellbeing of our nation's most vulnerable older adults. With over 10 million seniors struggling with hunger, this bill is a crucial step towards addressing the urgent and growing issue of senior hunger. We look forward to working with Congress to see it enacted.”