DALLAS — Maria Warren of Dallas works part-time at Crossroads Community Services sorting donated clothes and filling food orders for hungry families.
The 65-year-old is also a client.
Part of her monthly diet comes from the CCS food pantry. The rest she buys with her Lone Star Card, the Texas version of food stamps. She’s been on the program for six months.
"I buy my milk, fruit... all my food that I need,” Warren said.
A growing number of baby boomers like Warren are struggling to make ends meet, and are now turning to food stamps.
In Texas, 85,000 people between the ages of 60 and 64 received food stamps this month. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission says that number has more than doubled in the past five years.
Experts say more and more seniors apply for food stamps after losing their retirement nest eggs or struggling to compete against younger people to find work.
Warren said she relied on her children for support until their situations changed.
"It got to the point where my own children had cut hours at work, so I had to go on my own and apply for food stamps to make ends meet for my budget,” Warren said.
"There's a ripple effect we see over and over again,” said Rev. Jay Cole, who runs Crossroads Community Services.
He said many seniors now need to work because their retirement funds have shrunk. They are willing to work full-time, but cannot get hired.
"When a person reaches 60 — for whatever reason — you're not as marketable,” Cole said.
Warren knows that well.
"It's not as easy as when we were young,” she said.
The state says the number of seniors applying for new Lone Star Card benefits this year is growing more slowly than in years before. But the demand is still growing faster than all the other age groups.