Three-quarters of people over age 50 in the United States say the rising cost of groceries has affected them somewhat or a lot, and nearly a third say they’re eating less healthily because of increased food costs, according to new poll findings.
New data suggest inflation will worsen already large nutrition gaps for people over 50.
But food cost inflation has hit certain groups of older adults harder, the poll suggests – especially individuals who rate their physical or mental health as fair or poor, and those in lower-income households or with fewer years of formal education. The new findings come from a national poll conducted in late July by the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, based at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.
“For our most vulnerable older adults, the huge increase we’ve seen in food costs could make a bad situation worse,” says Preeti Malani, M.D., director of the poll and a physician at Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.
More than a third of people age 50 to 80 say the rising cost of groceries has impacted them a lot, with 41% of those in their 50s and early 60s saying this compared with 30% of those age 65 to 80. Overall, the percentages saying this were higher among those who rate their physical health as fair or poor (46%), those who rate their mental health as fair or poor (58%), those with household incomes under $30,000 (56%) and those who have a high school education or less (48%).
The AARP Policy Institute recently published a report showing that in 2018, the majority of adults over 50 whose income qualified them for federal food assistance through the SNAP program were not enrolled. The AARP Foundation offers assistance in understanding and applying for SNAP benefits.
Many organizations in Northeast Ohio have been working diligently to ensure our older adults have options available and access to resources; many of which receive grants from our own McGregor Foundation such as the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Community Partnership on Aging, All-Faith’s Pantry; as well as McGregor PACE which provides a food pantry for PACE participants.