Households with Seniors in Tennessee

FRAC report shows 10.4% of households with older Tennesseans are food insecure. 

Households with Seniors in Tennessee

FRAC report shows 10.4% of households with older Tennesseans are food insecure. 

December 21st, 2018 / Author: Food Action Resource Center 

December 21st, 2018 / Author: Food Action Resource Center 

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2018 — In Tennessee, 10.4 percent of households with seniors (60+) face food insecurity, according to an analysis by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps reduce food insecurity and improve health and well-being.

“SNAP is a lifeline for older adults across the state to keep food in the refrigerator and on the table,” says Michele Johnson, executive director and co-founder of the Tennessee Justice Center.

Dr. Kevin James, a geriatrician from Maryville, Tenn., agrees.

“With prescription and housing costs increasing, many seniors must choose daily between paying for food or medications,” says Dr. James. For many vulnerable seniors, SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger and frees up finances for their medical care.”

Only 43 percent of Tennessee seniors who are eligible for SNAP benefit from the program. There are approximately 260,000 eligible older adults in the state who are not accessing this critical program, putting them at risk of hunger.

“The impact of hunger is magnified in seniors who are often on multiple medications, which may behave unpredictably when not accompanied by a consistent diet,” says Dr. James. “Frailty associated with malnutrition in seniors is a major risk factor for falls, infections, and ultimately loss of independence.”

Research shows older adults face several barriers to enrolling in SNAP, including not knowing they are eligible and feeling stigma about receiving food assistance.

Across the state, the Tennessee Justice Center is focused on ensuring that seniors, as well as other Tennesseans who qualify for SNAP, have the tools they need to apply to the program. The organization works to raise awareness of SNAP, assist seniors as they apply to the program and address any barrier that they face to maintaining their SNAP benefits.

“Policymakers also need to be part of the solution,” added Johnson. “By adopting and promoting available  best practices and options in SNAP policy outreach, policymakers can ensure Tennessee is better able to support the nutrition and health of seniors struggling with hunger.”

SNAP Maps, FRAC’s interactive data tool, shows that, on average, from 2012–2016, 17 percent of rural households with seniors, 13 percent of households with seniors in small towns in Tennessee, and  12 percent of senior households in metro areas participated in SNAP.

“Everything that can be done must be done to ensure SNAP is being used to its full extent, especially by older individuals, so they don’t have to skip meals, choose between food and medicine, or postpone medical care,” concluded Dr. James.

Editor’s note:

SNAP Maps is based on an analysis of the American Community Survey (ACS) five-year data (2012–2016). Each county is grouped by the U.S. Census Bureau into one of three census categories: Metro, Small Town, or Rural. Accompanying the map is an interactive, searchable table that allows users to look at and compare household SNAP participation by state and county. SNAP Maps demonstrates that SNAP matters in every community across the country, regardless of size or demographics.

About the Tennessee Justice Center

For over 20 years, the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) has been standing with vulnerable Tennessee families and helping them access basic necessities of life.  It helps its neighbors one-by-one to cut through red tape to access vital, sometimes life-saving services like health care and nutrition benefits, and then use what is learned to improve systems affecting many more. For more information, visit www.tnjustice.org.

About the Food Research & Action Center
FRAC is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. For more information, visit www.FRAC.org.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2018 — In Tennessee, 10.4 percent of households with seniors (60+) face food insecurity, according to an analysis by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps reduce food insecurity and improve health and well-being.

“SNAP is a lifeline for older adults across the state to keep food in the refrigerator and on the table,” says Michele Johnson, executive director and co-founder of the Tennessee Justice Center.

Dr. Kevin James, a geriatrician from Maryville, Tenn., agrees.

“With prescription and housing costs increasing, many seniors must choose daily between paying for food or medications,” says Dr. James. For many vulnerable seniors, SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger and frees up finances for their medical care.”

Only 43 percent of Tennessee seniors who are eligible for SNAP benefit from the program. There are approximately 260,000 eligible older adults in the state who are not accessing this critical program, putting them at risk of hunger.

“The impact of hunger is magnified in seniors who are often on multiple medications, which may behave unpredictably when not accompanied by a consistent diet,” says Dr. James. “Frailty associated with malnutrition in seniors is a major risk factor for falls, infections, and ultimately loss of independence.”

Research shows older adults face several barriers to enrolling in SNAP, including not knowing they are eligible and feeling stigma about receiving food assistance.

Across the state, the Tennessee Justice Center is focused on ensuring that seniors, as well as other Tennesseans who qualify for SNAP, have the tools they need to apply to the program. The organization works to raise awareness of SNAP, assist seniors as they apply to the program and address any barrier that they face to maintaining their SNAP benefits.

“Policymakers also need to be part of the solution,” added Johnson. “By adopting and promoting available  best practices and options in SNAP policy outreach, policymakers can ensure Tennessee is better able to support the nutrition and health of seniors struggling with hunger.”

SNAP Maps, FRAC’s interactive data tool, shows that, on average, from 2012–2016, 17 percent of rural households with seniors, 13 percent of households with seniors in small towns in Tennessee, and  12 percent of senior households in metro areas participated in SNAP.

“Everything that can be done must be done to ensure SNAP is being used to its full extent, especially by older individuals, so they don’t have to skip meals, choose between food and medicine, or postpone medical care,” concluded Dr. James.

Editor’s note:

SNAP Maps is based on an analysis of the American Community Survey (ACS) five-year data (2012–2016). Each county is grouped by the U.S. Census Bureau into one of three census categories: Metro, Small Town, or Rural. Accompanying the map is an interactive, searchable table that allows users to look at and compare household SNAP participation by state and county. SNAP Maps demonstrates that SNAP matters in every community across the country, regardless of size or demographics.

About the Tennessee Justice Center

For over 20 years, the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) has been standing with vulnerable Tennessee families and helping them access basic necessities of life.  It helps its neighbors one-by-one to cut through red tape to access vital, sometimes life-saving services like health care and nutrition benefits, and then use what is learned to improve systems affecting many more. For more information, visit www.tnjustice.org.

About the Food Research & Action Center
FRAC is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. For more information, visit www.FRAC.org.

2018-12-27T09:38:38-05:00