In today’s Texas, where the economy is booming and opportunities abound, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could go hungry. But hunger and lack of nutrition plague far too many families in the Lone Star State, contributing to the state’s rank of 31st out of the 50 states in overall health, according to UnitedHealthcare’s America’s Health Rankings® 2014 report.
These issues are particularly worrisome for the older population, which is even more vulnerable to negative health outcomes related to food insecurity than other adults. A recent study by Feeding America and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans found that food insecure seniors have a much higher risk for chronic health conditions.
When compared to seniors who have reliable food sources, food insecure seniors are:
- 60 percent more likely to experience depression
- 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack
- 52 percent more likely to develop asthma
- 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure
In response to the needs of local senior citizens, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas recently awarded $5,000 to the East Texas Food Bank to support its Senior Box Program to help improve the nutrition and health of senior citizens in and around Smith County, where some 43,000 individuals are food insecure (source: Feeding America Map the Meal Gap 2015). UnitedHealthcare’s contribution also enabled East Texas Food Bank to reach its $25,000 fundraising goal that enabled it to qualify for another $25,000 matching grant.