1 in 12 senior citizens didn't have enough food in 2017 — and the Trump administration is threatening to make it worse
Feeding America, a nonprofit organization which operates hundreds of food banks around the country, reports that 5.5 million seniors, 7.7% of the population over 60, didn't have enough food in 2017, and the situation not only isn't improving but is getting worse. Not all of these food insecure people actually fit the federal threshold for poverty. In fact, two-thirds have incomes above the official poverty line, which is a good indication that that calculation needs to be reassessed. But they are financially strained enough to be eating less or skipping meals. At $1,012 a month for an individual, the challenge is definitely real for anyone. But for seniors who have high costs for health care or housing or transportation, the challenge is even tougher. That's just one of the reasons why so many seniors are going hungry.
It's also a good reason why the use of the "chained CPI," the consumer price index calculation that assumes people will substitute less expensive products for what they currently consumer, is so dangerous. The Trump administration is threatening to apply it to the poverty calculations. Older people have higher fixed costs, and would be even more significantly harmed by this change.
Feeding America calls it an epidemic that will affect more than 8 million people by 2050. Should the Trump administration go through with its proposed change, it will be worse. But there are so many factors at work here. There are still 3 million people 65 and older who are still paying student loans, whose Social Security is being seized to pay loans, and for many—particularly women—Social Security is already inadequate to see them through a month.
The issue is getting worse. Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School estimates that 40% of middle-class Americans will be living either at the edge of or in poverty by the time they're 65 if current policies don't change.