A long wait formed outside a Harlem food bank on the day more than 1.5 million New Yorkers lost essential food assistance. Elderly people with walkers and canes waited. They waited, shifting weight. One older man carried a folding chair.
Hector Castro dropped back. Last week, SNAP payments were cut for thousands of elderly New Yorkers. Castro, 84, and his wife survive in East Harlem on a social security pension. The shift slashed his grocery budget. He likes fresh fruit but isn’t sure he can afford it.
Castro said, “We’ll need to store food differently, consume less meat, and buy cheaper things.” I try to eat well-balanced meals daily, but it’s hard. Fruit is pricey and scarce.
As emergency SNAP allocations finish on Wednesday, low-income city elders may go hungry.
SNAP reductions back to pre-pandemic levels. The federal emergency allocation mechanism was meant to be temporary.
Advocates and low-income seniors say New York’s most vulnerable seniors are unprepared for the change.
Participants got their maximum payments, $281 per month for seniors living alone, before Wednesday. That may drop to $23 per month. Fixed-income persons are greatly affected by this.
Maria Rivera, director of senior services at BronxWorks, saw an uptick in seniors worried about eating. The pandemic devastated NYC’s poor seniors. 75% of COVID deaths are seniors. They lost the most jobs. They can’t shop or cook, have unstable money, and have health issues. The cuts hurt, and groceries are still expensive.
Castro ate regularly and stocked his fridge with fruits, vegetables, and red meat thanks to SNAP. Such products may be unattainable now. His fixed income is $700 a month and he uses a walker. Inflation has driven him to eat bread and butter instead of steak and seafood. He goes to the East Harlem NY Common Pantry for produce and dairy.
Castro said he’ll hobble to pantries farther from home if SNAP changes leave him hungry. “Scary. As a provider, it’s stressful, and I can’t imagine how scary it is for elderly New Yorkers who don’t know where their next meal is coming from “Citymeals on Wheels CEO Beth Shapiro. Food prices remain high.
William Page’s pandemic continues. “For the pandemic. The pandemic affects pricing “SNAP-eligible senior William Page stated. “Maybe vaccinated, but they ain’t eating.” The program saves millions of starving New Yorkers. SNAP helps merchants by loading prepaid cards monthly. Seniors worry about stocking eggs, milk, and fruit.
Food costs rise despite falling inflation. The USDA reported a 10% increase last year. They’ll rise 8% this year. Low-income seniors and those in poor health are worried about rising prices. Cuts may make them miss meals or eat junk food. Page, 74, has gotten the maximum monthly SNAP benefit of $281 for three years. He’ll get $100 less. He was hoping it would last longer. “It’ll be hard,” retired security guard Page said. “It’s difficult…” More weight.”
The cuts will affect his life. Monthly social security disability payouts are his only income. He buys red meat, salmon, eggs for breakfast, and chocolates with his additional SNAP cash. He can’t without those funds. He’ll buy Wheaties cereal and frequent food pantries for pricey necessities like milk and fruit. He considers buying canned beef but is concerned about its health.
If necessary, he’ll fast. Page visits the Harlem Food Bank Community Center, a senior center, twice a week despite his restricted mobility. He has lunch and chats with regulars. He knows everyone after ten years.
He brings a bag of leftovers for dinner. He has had problems walking after many surgeries in recent years. Grocery shopping is hard. “It’s hard for me to stand up and walk,” he remarked. Food insecurity can raise health risks and healthcare expenses. Cuts will force difficult decisions on many.
Or insulin? Groceries or healthcare? Risk exhaustion and injury to collect more food from pantries farther away? “Your medicines work better when you work effectively when you’re nourished,” said Beth Shapiro of Citymeals on Wheels.
“This is making people go hungry,” Shapiro said high food prices would stretch their dollars even more. “Without good eating, older adults with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease cannot manage them.
SNAP allotments let elderly folks buy healthier meals. ” Food pantries and senior centers expect a rise in demand as seniors feel the change. Some elders must return to the centers.
Rivera said they may have to return to get their food. “Fearing illness, they haven’t returned. As they can now afford three meals at home, some will have to return home. New Jersey is trying to extend the program, but New York hasn’t.