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NCOA Takes the SNAP Challenge

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Could you eat healthy on $3.84 per day?

That’s the challenge for the 2.85 million seniors who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food help – on only $119 per month (national average).

And now it’s our challenge, too.

From March 5-9, 2012, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) will sponsor the first-ever SNAP Challenge by a national organization serving older adults. Participants in the NCOA SNAP Challenge will replicate the experience of living on a SNAP budget – choosing recipes, shopping for groceries, and cooking healthy meals.  

SNAP is the most important hunger-fighting program for low-income older adults, yet only 35% of eligible seniors participate. With our SNAP Challenge, we hope to shed more light on the prevalence of senior hunger, and how food assistance programs play a vital role in economic security and healthy aging.

We invite you to follow our progress on the One Away blog (or, if you’re interested, participate in the Challenge too). You can also learn more about becoming an advocate around senior hunger by exploring our nutrition toolkit.

Have your own story to tell about you/someone you know getting SNAP? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below.

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Join the One Away discussion about how to help older Americans.

Comments on this Post

  • This is my story I was even on the news.. Here's the link

    Debra Roanoke
  • For the policy makers, please bring attention to a serious problem in California. Even though I am 55 years old, I consider myself as someone who is in older adult. I have had Type 1 Diabetes for 36 years along with many other health issues and complications from this disease. I recieve SS Disability and SSI. California is the only state in the nation that does not allow any recepients of SSI to receive SNAP. This is because of a law that was inacted in the 70's and made us a "cash out" state. This means that for a long time, SSI provided a extra amount that was close to a food stamp equivilant. The state got to save money on administration costs for SNAP. There have been four cuts to SSI since 2009, and this extra amount for food was taken away, but we are still not eligible for SNAP. Someone making $324 more a month than what I receive in SS is eligible for SNAP. I have written to my representatives, and they acknowledge the problem, but none of them have the initiative to do anything about it. All my bills have gone up, and I have gone into debt just trying to keep my head above water. This old law for California needs to be changed, and it is a law in the federal statues, so it complicates things.
    Sincerely, Theresa
    Theresa Chico, CA
  • I work with the senior population in Reno, Nevada. The majority of my low income seniors receive $16 per month in food stamps. Dawn NV
  • I depended upon the SNAP program for my nutritional needs until they cut my monthly amount down to $71.00. Now I have to use a part of my SS check to supplement what SNAP took away from me. My health problems concern my liver, heart, and stomach/intestines, so I must pay strict attention to my diet. High quality food can be very expensive. Try eating decently on $2.36 a day! How can anyone trust their government representatives when they only care about making the wealthy more wealthy and safe? Explain that one to me, will you? William W Centralia, WA
  • Yes, I've been there and I know how terrible it is in this rich country that we basically ignore the poor and their health needs. If you ever go to a supermarket and price what food you could afford on $119.00 a month ($28.00 a week) you surely would know why the poor have more heath problems. The poverty level is ridiculousness low and hasn't changed much in 20 years, while rent, food and healthcare cost continue to be raised. We need to go back and reestablish what is a decent amount to be offered to seniors and the working poor to ensure they have a future in this country and their children have a future. If this government can waste Billions on tax cuts for the rich, billions on foreign aid, and billions on corporations that do no pay their fair share of supporting this national economy, then they should be able to pay for the health and well being of it citizens. If not then start cutting those things and not food aid to seniors, and the poor. M. MD
  • I have been living on SNAP for 3 years. I have been receiving $100 a year. I am a senior living on my Social Security income and this year since there was a COLA amounting to $40 a month (which has been spent already on the costs of electric, water, gas, maintenance fees, cost of food going up) the Government has cut my SNAP benefits down to $86 -- I was barely getting by before being very careful how I spent the food credit. I am going to have a problem this year. Carol
  • I know exactly how it feels not to be able to afford to eat every day of the week. I have had to ration my money just to be able to get one meal a day. I have had to walk away from grocery stores with nothing in my bag and nothing in my stomach that night. There's only two words to really describe it: it's hell. It's hell on earth. That is what these people are being subjected to. Their human rights have been taken away. Liz OH
  • I'm 70 years old and living on my Social Security, which is $600 a month.I have a SMALL amount of savings, which is dwindling as I pay rent, waiting for a place in Low-Income Senior building.
    I have SNAP.(Thank God)
    My experience is to not think of it as a daily budget.The lady in the picture is doing the right thing-buying in bulk.Greens are the hardest because they dont keep.But celery is great.
    Onions are high in quercetin, and inexpensive.Carrots.Apples in season.I buy almond butter, instead of meat most of the time.High-quality protein and good fat.Canned sardines are VERY nourishing & good for us.Eggs.The food can get a little boring, but..what can we do?
    I augment at food banks when I can.I have very bad arthritis, and so it's a toss-up between looking for food or not having my knees killing me.
    To me, here in PA, the biggest hardship is getting to the store and back.Getting soaked waiting for public transportation in rain & snow--no good.Hundred degrees in the shade summer days-no good.Summer drenching rains.There's a lot of suffering.
    I sincerely recommend every senior on SNAP take time to go to the library and read up on nutrition.For example, do you know we lose muscle as we age? High-quality protein is important.And produce is full of vitamins & minerals.Dr ndrew Weil has a couple of books out on nutrition as we age.

    Seniors---what did we DO to deserve this? I never read about seniors in other countries being like this.America--have you forgotten about us?
    Joan Ardmore, PA
  • I have recently reached my official senior status at age 65. However, I was receiving SNAP and SS already for a couple of years since I had left my last job on early retirement for a disability that I was unable to receive disability benefits for. My SS is only $705/month which puts me way below the poverty level. Thank goodness I am able to live in my family home left to me by my mother or I would probably be living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere. Still, I find trying to put enough together to pay just the utilities and taxes is a stretch and if it weren't for food stamps and medicaid/medicare I am not sure how I would afford to keep food in my cupboard and my prescriptions. Even with HEAP to help with heating, I have found myself dipping into the money I had set aside to pay taxes in order to keep enough fuel to heat this winter since the HEAP allowances were drastically cut while the fuel cost went up. My home is rural and it is a good thing that I have good neighbors and fairly good health since my stopped running about 11 months ago and I was unable to afford to get it fixed or buy a new one. I volunteer at the local food shelf because it makes me feel better about having to use that facility to help with my groceries. One of the things that is a little difficult is that the SNAP program doesn't allow for non food essential items like soap, personal care products and toilet tissue. I do try to use those sparingly. The most difficult part of trying to live and stay positive with this very reduced income is trying to get repairs made to the dwelling. It is a very old home and has some definite challenges. I spent about $1500 last year to have the plumbing fixed and it still isn't working right and I couldn't afford to have any more work done to it. It is tough to be getting older and trying to stay independent and still be on a fixed income. Kathleen Hampton, NY