Hunger Free America Launches Initiative Focused on Assisting Food Insecure Seniors in NYC


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Nicole Aber, (914) 263-0013          

Hunger Free America Launces Initiative Focused on Assisting Food Insecure Seniors in NYC

Anti-Hunger Organization Enables NYC Seniors to Receive an Estimated $43,316 in Annual SNAP Benefits

NYC-Based Organiazation Looking to Recruit Seniors for Peer-to-Peer Hunger Screenings

In response to recently released numbers on food insecurity among seniors, Hunger Free America — a direct service and advocacy organization — is launching a new initiative aimed at enrolling more seniors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). With support from the Meera and Ashok Vasudevan Foundation, Hunger Free America has, so far this year, been able to assist seniors throughout New York City receive an estimated total of $43,316 in annual SNAP benefits. In an effort to increase their services to reach even more seniors in New York City, Hunger Free America will conduct screenings at senior centers and other community centers to determine eligibility for SNAP.

According to a recently released report from Feeding America, 6.7 percent of seniors in New York State were food insecure in 2017. 183,290 seniors (aged 60+) — nearly 11 percent of all seniors — in New York City were food insecure from 2015-2017, a 2018 Hunger Free America report shows. In the Bronx, a staggering 23.7 percent of seniors were food insecure during the three-year time period.

“In our experience working with seniors, we see that many of them view SNAP as a ‘handout’ and have the false impression that, if they accept SNAP, they will take food away from others that need it,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. “Some also see SNAP as troublesome to apply for because of the documentation required or the required interview that many believe to be in-person only. Also, many of our older clients are either non-English speakers or have Limited English Proficiency, which deters many of them from applying for this vital benefit. Our Benefits Access team members working on senior outreach speak Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese to assist New York’s diverse population of older residents.”

Hunger Free America is also looking to recruit senior volunteers for peer-to-peer outreach. Together with Hunger Free America’s staff, the volunteers would conduct pre-screenings for SNAP eligibility, and then for eligible seniors, provide submission assistance for a number of food benefits.

Continued Berg, “We assisted one semi-retired couple from Brooklyn who were concerned they were not eligible for SNAP. Our team dispelled any myths about the program and was able to help the couple apply for and receive $221 in monthly SNAP benefits. As more and more Baby Boomers continue to retire, the need for food assistance among seniors will only continue to rise. With our new initiative, we are prepared to assist seniors in New York City to ensure those in need receive this entitlement.”   

Seniors seeking food assistance can call the USDA National Hunger Hotline, managed by Hunger Free America, to find out where they can go to receive food. The USDA National Hunger Hotline can be reached by phone or text at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET). Seniors living in New York City who call the hotline will then be referred to Hunger Free America’s Benefits Access team for further assistance and SNAP pre-screenings.

Seniors interested in becoming peer-to-peer volunteers can contact Denise Fernandez, Hunger Free America’s Director of Benefits Access, at or 212-825-0028 ext. 207 for more information.