Enid Borden is the Founder, President and CEO of the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), formerly known as the Meals On Wheels Research Foundation. Prior to leading NFESH, Borden was the President and CEO of the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) for over 20 years.
How do we confront the issue of senior hunger in America? How do we have a reasoned discussion about an issue that too few people even know exist? And most important of all – when will we have that discussion?
It needs to happen now.
America’s infrastructure is aging. America’s bridges, tunnels, highways and city streets are cracking, sagging, buckling and disintegrating. But this aging phenomenon doesn’t stop there. Americans are aging.
The Congressional Research Service has reported that:
- America “has been in the midst of a profound demographic change: rapid population aging.”
- By 2050, an estimated one in five Americans will be 65 or older.
- Also by 2050, America’s most populous age group will be the oldest old. The oldest old are those who are 85 and above.
- This cohort will account for 7.4 percent of the entire US population.
- The numbers of older people in poor health are “almost certain to rise.”
Hunger: A Growing Senior Problem
We know for a fact that poor health both contributes to and is a result of poor nutrition. We know that millions of seniors suffer from food insecurity and hunger. We know that for as long as we have been tracking these numbers (for over a decade) the numbers of seniors who face the threat of hunger or who are hungry have been rising steadily. The question that we have been asking is, how do we end hunger. The answer is at our fingertips: We feed people.
Food Only Cures the Symptom
But that’s not nearly enough. We know why seniors suffer from food insecurity and/or hunger in the first place. It’s because certain circumstantial factors – ones that will always be present – can prohibit or inhibit someone’s ability to provide food for their self. These factors may be lack of resources, lack of mobility, lack of access to food, a poor health condition, isolation – both social and emotional – or any number of reasons far too numerous to name. While the circumstances surrounding the presence of hunger are many, the end result is always the same – food will resolve it in the short term. In other words, food will cure the symptom, now we must discuss curing the disease.
Curing the Problem
My organization, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, is committed to doing just that: bringing together the best minds in all sectors; commissioning research; and exploring social entrepreneurial innovations to seek long-term solutions to end senior hunger. We must use a data-driven approach and work with many community, corporate, and national partners to design a model of inclusive elderly well-being that an American society can embrace.
- Click here to visit the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger site
- Click here to read the Congressional Research Service report
- Click here to see a video about the growing problem of senior hunger