WNYT.com

AARP says many seniors in region are needlessly going hungry

Posted at: 11/08/2013 4:15 PM
Updated at: 11/08/2013 5:43 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

Senior citizens shopping at a grocery store.
Senior citizens shopping at a grocery store.
Photo: File / AP

GLENS FALLS - Linda Magliulo is in the minority.

The 63-year-old Glens Falls resident is among a small percentage of seniors around here who receives SNAP, the federal assistance program that used to be known as food stamps.

According to the AARP, as many as three out of every four older adults who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties, are not getting it.

"That's stupid," joked Linda Magliulo as she wheeled a cart on Ridge St. Friday. "You gotta do what you gotta do. If you need food, get food."

But service agencies and the AARP say there are lots of things that prevent older adults from getting the nutrition help they need, including pride.

"Pride is a really, really big barrier for seniors. They are often raising grandchildren or helping the rest of their families get by and putting themselves last," said Christine Deska, senior program specialist for AARP New York.

So the AARP and others gather in Glens Falls Friday, trying to figure out ways to make it easier for seniors to get the help they need. They say a big part of the solution is letting them know they qualify.

"If you are eligible for the HEAP program for heating assistance, you are very likely eligible for SNAP benefits as well," said Misha Marvel of Hunger Solutions New York.

And the notion that food assistance programs are a drain on the economy is a fallacy say the experts. In fact, the opposite is true.

"When these people are spending their SNAP dollars in their local grocery stores, it's keeping people employed," said Susan Lintner of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY. "It's keeping money in the local economy."

So, Linda Magliulo has this advice to her fellow seniors. "Do what you gotta do. You need food, get food," she said, smiling.