Hunger in Larimer County
Senior Hunger a Growing Concern in Larimer County
May is Older Americans Month. This year, the Food Bank for Larimer County and partner food banks across the Feeding America network are taking this opportunity to focus on an area of growing concern: Senior hunger. Nationwide, nearly 1 in 12 seniors receives food assistance from a Feeding America food bank. The food insecurity rate among seniors has more than doubled since 2001. More than 1/3 of seniors are not financially prepared for retirement and depend on Social Security for income. Currently, the average monthly benefit for a single, retired worker is $1297.55.
After a lifetime of contributing to society, older Americans living on fixed incomes are often forced to make impossible decisions, such as choosing between paying for prescriptions or housing and buying groceries. Although food insecurity—not having access to enough food for an active or healthy life—affects people of all ages, seniors are particularly vulnerable because they have unique nutritional needs related to aging and/or medical conditions. Food insecurity can also have a cumulative health impact as poor nutrition can lead to obesity and diabetes. Further, a recent study found that seniors facing hunger have an increased risk of depression (60%), heart attack (53%), congestive heart failure (40%), asthma (51.8%) and chest pain (36.9%).
Senior Hunger in Larimer County
Locally, 5.3% of Larimer County seniors live at or below the federal poverty level. In total, 8.4% of seniors are considered food insecure (incomes from 101%-185% of the federal poverty level). Seniors represent 13.4% of the county population and will grow to 18% by 2040. The number of seniors receiving assistance from the Food Bank’s fresh food pantry has increased 26.5% since 2010; the only age demographic that continues to increase. The Food Bank anticipates continued need and potentially increased demand in the future and is mindfully watching the growth of the community’s senior population.
Hunger-relief for Seniors
Food Bank clients, including seniors, can “shop” at Food Share, a client choice, fresh food pantry, twice weekly. The goal is to provide clients with enough food for one meal per day. The Food Bank places a heavy emphasis on fresh produce, which is high in nutritional value, but often too expensive for seniors living on fixed incomes. In addition to providing food at pantries in Fort Collins and Loveland, the Food Bank administers the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). CSFP provides nutritionally-balanced, shelf-stable food packages to low-income seniors each month. CSFP is the only USDA nutrition program that provides monthly food assistance specially targeted at low-income seniors. Individuals age 60 and over with incomes of less than 130 percent of the federal poverty line (approximately $15,171 for a senior living alone in 2014) are eligible for the program. Unlike SNAP (food stamps), which is an entitlement program and serves all eligible people who apply, CSFP must be funded each year through the annual federal appropriations process and can only serve as many eligible people as funding allows.
Larimer County Hunger Stats
More than 45% of the individuals served at our fresh food pantry, Food Share, are either children or the elderly. The fastest growing segment of the hungry is the working poor. Low wage jobs, lack of health insurance and high housing costs contribute dramatically to the demand for food from our warehouse.
- The average monthly income of our Food Share clients is just over $900/month.
- On average, our clients seek food assistance more than 3 times each month.
- Among households with children younger than age 18, 38% are single parents.
- 81% of client households in Food Share are living below the poverty line.
- 32% of adult clients report they cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there wasn’t enough money for food in the previous twelve months.
- Every 25 seconds that we were open in 2013, our Food Share pantries (in Fort Collins and Loveland) were providing fresh food to individuals in need.
- One out of every 10 Larimer County residents accessed food from our Food Share pantries in 2013.
- Over 28,259 individuals were served through the FBLC Food Share direct service pantry locations in Fort Collins and Loveland.
- Over 66,830 Kids Cafe meals were served to low-income children in Larimer County.
- More than 18,000 backpacks were filled with nutritious food and distributed to local students needing assistance over the weekend and school breaks.
- Over 70 schools participated in our Kids Link snack program, which we provided 128,520 snacks to students in Larimer County.
- 8.7 million pounds of food was distributed to Larimer County residents in need.
- The Food Bank provided food to 80 non-profit partner agencies, saving these organizations $2.45 million in food expenses to utilize instead for program missions.
Other resources for hunger and poverty facts:
Larimer County Compass
FRAC - Food Research and Action Center