Within the growing senior population, many older Americans struggle to afford the basics. With that in mind, making a case for protecting and strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for Americans 60 years and older is more critical than ever. FRAC, in collaboration with AARP Foundation, recently created and launched state and county maps to demonstrate that SNAP matters to seniors across our nation.
The user-friendly maps, accompanied by searchable and interactive tables, examine what share of households with seniors participates in SNAP. Data are available for all 50 U.S. states and each of the nation’s 3,142 counties. The maps provide advocates, policymakers, the media, and others with resources to stress the importance of safeguarding SNAP by zeroing in on how SNAP helps households with seniors in every corner of the nation.
SNAP participation among senior households, on average, is consistent for all types of counties across the country (rural, small town, and metropolitan areas), boosting the food purchasing power of older Americans everywhere every month. Reaching more seniors than any other federal nutrition program, SNAP served a monthly average of 5.1 million individuals aged 60+ in 2016.
Beyond improving food security, research shows how seniors who participate in SNAP also benefit from a range of other positive outcomes, including better health, improved nutrition, and lower health care costs and use.
While the maps highlight the important reach of SNAP, it is essential to recognize that SNAP still fails to reach millions of eligible households with seniors. In fact, 3 out of 5 eligible households with seniors miss out on SNAP, signaling the need to do even more to connect seniors to the multiple benefits of the program.
Making sure more vulnerable seniors access SNAP begins with educating policymakers on SNAP’s importance in addressing senior hunger and food insecurity; establishing partnerships between different stakeholders to provide SNAP education, outreach, and application assistance to seniors; and promoting the adoption of state practices and policies that will ease SNAP enrollment and the receipt of benefits. SNAP matters for millions of older Americans, and protecting and strengthening the program would show that seniors matter to all of us.
Interested in learning more about seniors and SNAP? Please join FRAC and AARP Foundation for a webinar on Wednesday, April 3rd from 1 pm – 2 pm Eastern Time. Register today.