Poverty is a serious problem in America. Poverty is counted as earning less than about $11,500 or less than about $24,000 for a family of four. About 45,000,000 Americans, approximately 14.5% of the nation, lives below the poverty line.
What is more, 43% of U.S. households are a single financial crisis away from poverty according to a report released by advocacy group Corporation for Enterprise Development.
But overlapping that crisis is another one: the greatest retirement crisis in U.S. history is unfolding. Edward "Ted" Siedle, writing for Forbes.com, notes:
[L]ack of savings, lack of employment possibilities and failing health will catch up with the overwhelming majority of the nation’s elders.... the overwhelming majority, not a small percentage who arguably made bad decisions throughout their working lives.
The "number of seniors threatened by hunger has doubled since 2001, and it’s going to get worse," PBS NewsHour special correspondent Sarah Varney reported last night, May 22, 2015.
[M]any poor retirees are living in gated communities, but the very gates meant to signify safety and status are hampering efforts to help those seniors who are struggling with hunger.
Only one-third of eligible seniors are enrolled in food stamps, compared to three-quarters of the eligible general population.
In fact, "nearly one in six senior citizens face the threat of hunger in the United States."
(Combine that fact with those revealed in other studies, and among those hungry retirees there's likely to be a disproportionate number of retirees of color and LGBT retirees.)
You'll be hearing a more about this...or perhaps experiencing it yourself. Varney ends her report with another alarming statistic:
Researchers expect the number of seniors facing the threat of hunger will rise by 50 percent over the next decade.
In other words, by 2025, about one out of every four senior citizens will be living with the threat of hunger.
From the related PBS NewsHour photo essay "Asking for help at 80—America's new faces of hunger," by Ariel Min:
At 94 years old, Beatrice—a pseudonym, because she wished to stay anonymous—till drives a beat-up, red Pontiac everywhere, even with her lungs semi-permanently in need of oxygen support. She’s always been independent—and still wants to be—but when it comes to food nowadays, that became almost impossible, especially after moving out of her son’s condo after he suffered a stroke.
“You know that [SNAP benefits and supplemental food programs] makes me feel very insecure to even talk about it, because, I [wasn’t] that type at one time. And to get this at 94, and to have these people help, it’s unbelievable.” she said.