When it comes to eating a healthy diet, millions of Americans 65 and over face a dual challenge — a fixed income and rising food costs.

Nationally, adults aged aged 65 and older have an average annual income of $46,627, and they spend more than $5,500 — or nearly 12 percent — on food. This year those who rely on Social Security received just a 0.3 percent increase in their Cost of Living Adjustment.

Those just 10 years younger have a greater income (averaging $75,262 annually) and spend less (9.3 percent) on groceries.

The National Association of RSVP Directors Inc. was recently awarded a grant to support a National Council on Aging effort to help older adults struggling to buy groceries apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to supplement their food budget.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that just two out of every five seniors who are eligible for SNAP are enrolled in the program,” said a release about the initiative. “This means that millions of low-income older adults are missing out on this vital program, which provides an average monthly benefit of $110 to help participants buy healthy food.”

RSVP is one of more than 30 community organizations across the country that is stepping up its efforts to assist seniors in applying for SNAP. The organizations will use NCOA’s free online BenefitsCheckUp tool at www.BenefitsCheckUp.org to screen older adults with limited income for SNAP eligibility. Since 2014, the initiative has screened almost 400,000 people for SNAP eliegibility, and helped nearly 70,000 seniors apply for SNAP.

“We’re excited to be part of this proven effort that has the potential to help low-income older adults in Athens-Limestone County improve their health and financial security,” said Betty M. Ruth, executive director of Athens-Limestone County RSVP. “RSVP has a strong history of helping seniors in need. We’re confident that increasing SNAP enrollment with BenefitsCheckUp and other proven outreach methods will have a profound effect on lives of seniors in Athens and Limestone County.”

To find out more about SNAP eligibility, contact Dean Morgan at Athens-Limestone County RSVP at 256-232-7207. For more information on NCOA’s senior hunger initiative, visit ncoa.org/SeniorHunger.

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