The image of the United States of America, supposedly the richest country in the world, has taken a slap in the face with the release of a study that shows a stunning 8 million baby boomers are going hungry and are turning to charity for food.
The baby boomer generation (people aged between 50 and 64) were born at a time when America was going through an unprecedented period of economic growth and it was thought they would never have to face hardships as their parents and grandparents had done after the depression and two world wars.
The study produced and released by Feeding America – a nonprofit network of food banks – with funding from the AARP Foundation, found that baby boomers were also facing “serious health and economic challenges” with the main contributing factors being unemployment, housing shortages and poor health.
According to the report, which surveyed 60,000 people, two-thirds had been unemployed over the last year, 73% said they were in poor health, and 67% reported they lived in households with a yearly income under $20,000.
President of Feed American, Matt Knott said “Our network serves 13 million older adults and we expect that number to rise. This is absolutely the right time to be taking a hard look at the data to determine the challenges our mature clients face.”
Baby boomers are not yet eligible for federal programs like Medicare or social security.
The lead author of the report Professor Dana King, who is chair of West Virginia University’s Department of Family Medicine said “Increasing chronic disease and disability in baby boomers can have consequences beyond poor health and higher medical bills. Disability can lead to unemployment and lower income, and lower income can lead to having less money for essentials such as food.”
“Addressing the system-wide economic issues is obviously needed. The private sector can help by promoting workplace wellness and contributing to community public health programs that encourage regular exercise and healthy diet habits in the adult working population,” said Professor King.
Experts interviewed on the situation said businesses had a role to play in addressing the problem by along with employing older adults also helping fund programs aimed at improving the health of boomers.