MELVILLE - Many hungry Long Island seniors eligible for food stamps, or the SNAP program, are not taking advantage of the service.

According to a new report from the AARP, 85 percent of eligible Long Island seniors are not accessing SNAP. The number is 20 percent higher than the national average. Gwen O'Shea, from the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, says food pantries and soup kitchens are seeing a higher number of people because of the recession and Sandy.

O'Shea says the AARP reports many seniors don't register for SNAP, thinking it isn't appropriate to apply for aid or that it's too difficult to. The Health and Welfare Council plans to break down stigmas to help seniors register, through outreach and social media efforts, as well as direct conversation.