March 13, 2015

Solutions to Senior Hunger

SSH Convening Attendees

1 in 6 seniors live in poverty. 65% of seniors eligible for SNAP benefits aren’t using them. We could no longer ignore these appalling statistics so two years ago we made senior hunger an organizational priority. Our goal is to connect vulnerable seniors to the nutrition assistance they need.

In our initial program, a one-year pilot called Solutions to Senior Hunger (SSH), we provided training, technical assistance, peer support and funding to 13 Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFS) agencies in seven states. Our SSH partners conducted over 600 outreach events to raise awareness about SNAP and helped nearly 1,500 clients apply for food benefits that will help alleviate poor nutrition, hunger and food insecurity among older adults.

In January, we brought all of the partners together to reflect on the program, establish strategies to deepen their impact through advocacy and help them sustain their success moving forward.

The SSH pilot was a success in many ways and we learned a lot:

  • Staff were able to reintroduce SNAP to senior clients, who assumed they were not eligible or were deterred by the burdensome application
  • Partners gained a deeper appreciation for the various barriers to SNAP that seniors face (like the reluctance to share personal financial information and the intimidation that accompanies online applications)
  • Partners extended their reach and visibility to expand services to communities they might not typically serve
  • New relationships and opportunities for collaboration arose with other groups like senior centers, hospitals, universities, etc.
  • Armed with more experience and knowledge, many partners became more deeply involved with anti-hunger work in their community

We are proud that the program was such a success, but we recognize that the work is just beginning.

SSH was supported by generous funding from the Walmart Foundation.