In the wake of a recession that saw the sudden disappearance of many senior citizens’ retirement funds and nest eggs, food pantries across the country are seeing increased amounts of the elderly using their services so they can put food on the table.
Citing Department of Agriculture statistics, the Huffington Post recently reported that the number of elderly who were living alone and dependent on food pantries for sustenance had jumped from 225,000 in 2006 to 408,000 in 2008, or an increase of 81 percent.
"What we see in line is lots of gray hair, lots of walkers," Marti Forman, CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based Cooperative Feeding Program, told the website.
In addition to the growing problem of senior citizens needing help with their food costs, Catholic Charities USA spokesman Roger Conner added that many senior citizens were also resistant to admit they needed help consolidating debt and managing their expenses.
"They’re of a generation that feels they took care of themselves, and now in these desperate straits they don’t want to acknowledge it," he told the Post.
With so many Americans going without food, a new report by Plos One on how much food is wasted by those who can afford food expenses may be troubling. According to the report, 40 percent of all food purchased in the country each year is thrown away, a 50 percent increase over figures from 1974.