More than half of eligible New Jersey seniors who could get for food assistance and suffer from hunger do not get the help that they need.

Adele LaTourette, of Hunger Free New Jersey, says she thinks a lot of seniors feel they do not really want government assistance, perhaps because they feel others need it more.

"One of the reasons is stigma. I think lots of senior citizens feel like they they really don't want to take government assistance," she said.

LaTourette said it is important for people to understand that these programs are there for a reason.

"They have paid their taxes. They have worked and really put into the system and when they need help they should not fear or feel badly about applying," she said.

Participation in Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, has been declining.

"As the economy improves, SNAP participation goes down. It's a program that really reacts to the economy," LaTourette said.

There was a 6% drop in SNAP participation in New Jersey between January 2018 and January of this year. In January, 712,478 New Jersey residents — including children, seniors, the working poor and disabled — received benefits.

LaTourette says it's easy for eligible older New Jersey residents to apply: They can go to their county welfare board or apply online at this link.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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