Is Your Grandma Hungry and You Don’t Know It? Senior/Elder Hunger ~ The Hidden Epidemic in America.

Elder Hunger Awareness Month Proclamation signed by Governor Mary Fallin  for June 2015.

Oklahoma ranks #8, in the nation, for senior hunger! 1/3 of Seniors in Oklahoma City are hungry on a daily basis, yet hunger in Oklahoma is higher in many rural areas.

  • Elderly people struggling with hunger may be ashamed for others to know.
  • Social Security does not keep a person from going hungry
  • Hunger affects health as health is heavily determined by what we eat.
  • Many factors, not just poverty, contribute to hunger.
  • The grief of the widowed may be compounded by lack of money.


The majority of those seniors who face the threat of hunger,  are white (63%), have incomes above the poverty line and  are widowed, with disabled widows at a higher risk.  Among the most pronounced increases, for food insecurity, are the retired, those who do not live in a metro area, women, and households with no grandchildren present.

One in three Oklahomans rely on Social Security for their total income. However, there is no minimum Social Security benefit amount.  At the death of a spouse, while one Social Security benefit goes away  rent and utilities, insurance, taxes,  maintenance/repair continue and become more expensive, as time goes on.   If there was a  first or second mortgage on the home, there may not be much equity in the home so by selling it she might  go in the hole with fees and closing costs. Many widows spend years paying off the expensive funeral for their late spouse.

While more than 50% of  households  receiving food through food banks are also receiving food stamps, a Senior receiving  the average  Social Security benefit does not qualify for the  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly called  food stamps.  One widow who did receive SNAP, lost her $22 monthly  benefit when the Social Security cost-of-living increased this year,  putting her over the allowed income.

79% of households  report that as they are unable to stretch their dollar far enough to buy enough food to sustain their health they purchase inexpensive,  unhealthy food. Processed foods (packaged) may seem cheaper, but can adversely affect one’s health.   

MANY FACTORS, NOT JUST POVERTY, CONTRIBUTE TO HUNGER. A large number of Oklahoma seniors skip meals in order to pay for dental care when they simply can’t endure  the  pain that makes it extremely uncomfortable to eat.  The need for hearing aids or for eyeglasses that get broken or are no longer strong enough can reduce the small amount they normally use for food as Medicare, in the state of Oklahoma, does NOT cover glasses or  hearing aids. It is an ongoing battle for many elderly to just find the money for  the medication that needs to be taken with food, to assure its effectiveness. With very little left to buy food for the month some resort to:

(a) payday loans  with Annual Percent Rates of 391% or higher.  Oklahoma is No. 1 in Payday Loan Usage – NPR State Impact


(b) credit card companies that  may add a late fee of $35 and the APR may be increased to the variable penalty of 29.99% when  the minimum payment is not received by the due date!

Either one  puts them further in debt. 


There are more than 100,000 widows in Oklahoma. 40% of women in Oklahoma, over the age of 65, are widowed and nearly 70% of widows in Oklahoma live alone.

The cost of the loved ones funeral can be devastating for the widowed when there is no life insurance or other income to help with the expense. Many have depleted their savings, due to the low interest rates they were receiving, which left them no choice but to use the principal. Many receive no company pension.

A lack of money can play a big  part in a widow becoming isolated.  Embarrassed and ashamed by their situation, they are afraid if they get close to someone they will learn the truth.    There isn’t money to buy a little extra food to take to a potluck. Many times there is no choice but to decline offers to socialize. It can be a hardship to buy gas for the car to get to church once a week. Even  a small gift for a grandchild’s birthday may be financially outside the realm of possibilities. Feeling ashamed and believing they are the only ones in their predicament further isolates them as they tell no one.


“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”                                                                                    ~ Leo F. Buscaglia


Enough healthy food for adequate nutrition is important,  to  reduce the rates of obesity,  diabetes and other chronic diseases and the accompanying skyrocketing healthcare costs.

The  health of low-income elderly persons,  60 years of age and older, can be improved by supplementing their diets with nutritious foods.

Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending Senior hunger. Each of us can all do something! Working together, we can solve hunger in Oklahoma.


“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in. ”                                                                   ~ Mother Teresa   ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
*In Oklahoma, Feeding America food banks serve the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma   (Oklahoma City) and  Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma  (Tulsa, OK )


 Purple heart Facebook: A Heart for the Widowed


Senior/Elder Hunger ~ The Hidden Epidemic in America.

Click to access 2011profile.pdf

Click to access Social-Security-2014-Oklahoma-Quick-Facts-AARP-res-gen.pdf

Click to access 2011profile.pdf  

This entry was posted in A heart for the widowed, Baby Boomers, Blessings, Diabetes help, Easy meals, Elder Hunger, Farmers in Oklahoma, Finances, Food, Foods for the heart, Grandparenting, Groceries, Healthy eating, Inspiration, Making Changes, Money Found, Neighbors, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Parenting, Prayer Changes Things, Prescription Drugs, Saving Money, Senior Citizen Discounts, Senior Citizens, Senior Hunger, stress, Stroke-Food to help reduce risk, strokes, Students, Things to see and do in Tulsa, Tulsa, volunteer, Volunteer work, Volunteering, volunteers, weight, Widow, Widowed, Widower, widowers, Widows and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Is Your Grandma Hungry and You Don’t Know It? Senior/Elder Hunger ~ The Hidden Epidemic in America.

  1. Jay says:

    Read these from PBS:

    4. …. And we know it exists. But I don’t think we don’t know the depth to which it exists. We just need to let people know these are programs that are available …. In some ways, seniors are the hardest people to reach, because part of it’s the pride, part of it’s that they don’t have the knowledge of the social service system, and part of it is their isolation. ANGELO MAFFUCCI: We can’t work anymore. And I don’t want to put a burden on my children that you have to give us each $100 a month or something like that.MINA MAFFUCCI: And we — I wouldn’t ask them.
    1. tulsage says: has two good articles in the paper today (June 15, 2015)
      an article today about StoneSoup Community Venture
      and Home Instead Senior Care and the idea of bringing back tradition of sitting down to Sunday dinner with your family

      • Jan says:

        StoneSoup Community Venture, a local nonprofit with a mission of establishing food justice programs throughout the Tulsa is located inside Eastside Christian Church, 1438 S. Indianapolis Ave. It offers a community café each month and pop-Up Cafes throughout the summer in low-income areas with a pay-as-you-can model to the meals.

        If someone isn’t able to pay with money, they are able to pay with time or talent in exchange for the meal. The idea is to give access to fresh healthy food to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

        StoneSoup is partnering with Street School, Tulsa Job Corps and Simple Faith Ministries to provide internships for the youths those agencies serve. The goal: empower at-risk youths who do internships at all the stations the café to the degree where they can become our employees; giving them a hand up and an employment opportunity,” Moore said. “The idea is to empower people for change through educational experiences.”

        LIFE Senior Services will provide older adults opportunities to mentor the youths in the intern program. The partnership will allow the older adults to share their professional and life experiences with the youth participants. “They have so much wisdom to share, and oftentimes troubled youths don’t have a grandparent figure in their life.”

        A certain percentage of both of those populations, understand what food insecurity is about.

    2. Will D. says:
      The group on the link are doing something wonderful.

    3. Jan says:

      An angel tree for the elderly who are on fixed incomes is a wonderful idea. They can always use items such as shampoo, toilet paper, stamps to mail bills, a gift basket of tuna in foil packs and other easy to fix foods, Wal-Mart gift cards (for groceries and other needed items) or even a gift card from Schwan’s to have food brought right to the door.

      Heating bills put a strain on winter budgets. Not all older people have families to help them out in these troubling times. Asking for help is nothing of which to be ashamed, however it takes a lot for a person to ask another for help…..especially our older folks.

    4. Jan says:

      The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ACA or “Obamacare,” impacts your health insurance AND it impacts your retirement.

      Have noticed your deductibles and out of pocket maximums going up? These are indicative of this shift. Medicare beneficiaries are not immune to these shifts.
      HealthView Services indicated that an American retiring today on an “average” social security income should anticipate that 69 percent of that check each month would go to out of pocket medical expenses. If you retire 10 years from now, that number jumps to 98 percent, and 20 years from now these expenses will take 127 percent of your monthly social security check.

      “Outcome”, or “protocol-based medicine ”is a long-term trend means that for any given condition there will be a prescribed protocol treatment and insurance companies will pay benefits based on that protocol. If your medical professional believes a complimentary treatment would improve your outcome, you may find that because that complimentary treatment is not protocol, you will be responsible for 100 percent of the cost of that complimentary treatment.

      Jeff Bush is a speaker and consultant on The Washington Update, a non-partisan group that guides clients through the ever-changing political and tax environment. For more information, visit

    5. Anna BA says:

      Tulsa World‎ published today (November 22, 2015) a very similar article to this one that was published here, a few months ago. Click to read the Tulsa World story
      (It isn’t the same story, even though it has a similar title as this post.)

      Looking for a way to help? This is the season for giving. Why not buy a gas gift card at QuikTrip or a gift card to Reasors or Walmart and so they can get some protein and/or a prescription, or maybe even shampoo or toilet paper.

      • Tara says:

        38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

        Luke 6:38New International Version (NIV)

    6. Barb says:

      Why doesn’t the Tulsa Area Food Bank have this for rural areas?
      The Regional food bank in OKC offers it for Oklahoma City, Norman, Lawton, Shawnee, Tecumseh, and Seminole

    7. Dawn says:

      Malnutrition after the loss of her spouse

      A widow wrote Doctor Komaroff that she hadn’t been motivated to cook since her husband passed away last year. Her doctor was concerned about her declining weight.

      He answered that he sees this with patients quite often. “The sadness and depression that follow the loss of a loved one can cause apathy. After years of cooking for two, it can be hard to make the effort to prepare regular, nutritious meals for one. Also, when you do make the effort to cook, little things remind you that you’re only cooking for one.

      If you’re not motivated to cook, you may wind up skipping meals. Or you may rely on less-healthy convenience foods, like cereal, frozen dinners or canned foods. Some of my patients eat the same thing for every meal. They don’t bother with fruits or vegetables; they eat poorly and their diet lacks variety.

      That can lead to malnutrition — deficiency in vitamins, fiber, protein or calcium. And malnutrition can lead to poor digestion, weight loss, bone problems and fatigue.

      The sadness that follows a loss can cause you to neglect caring for yourself, including eating well, and then poor nutrition can make you feel worse. It can be a vicious circle. You may feel like you don’t have the energy to cook, but once you start to eat right, you may suddenly have the energy to see your friends or family more often, go to the store, pursue a hobby — or even cook a healthy dinner.”

      Dr. Komaroff at

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