Populations Research

While food insecurity affects millions of people, the impact differs across unique population groups. To create a hunger-free America, we can’t apply a one-size-fits-all solution.

Our population-based food insecurity research focuses on the specific barriers and opportunities for diverse groups. We strive to identify the potential challenges facing individuals in order to craft tailored and evidence-based solutions.

Current populations studies include:

Child Hunger Research

Kids Cafe program challenged with administrative and operational barriers

Although program performance improved over the past few years, the number of food banks offering Kids Cafe has decreased. A group of food banks describes the challenges and barriers to entry that originate at the federal level. 

Feeding America Kids Cafes and Afterschool Snacks and Meals: Program Evaluation and Assessment
2013, Feeding America and Westat
Executive Summary

Backpack Program helps to alleviate food insecurity for the whole family, not just kids

An evaluation of the Eastern Illinois Food Bank shows the BackPack program has a big effect on food security and household budgets, with items being used by the whole family. Could a shift in focus from kids to families have a greater impact?

BackPack Program Evaluation
2012, Feeding America and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Executive Summary

Nutritional quality of BackPack program surpasses national average, but there’s still room for improvement

A survey of 9 food banks finds food provided through the BackPack program scores well above the national average for American school-age children, but some hurdles are keeping the score low.

Evaluation of the Nutritional Quality of BackPack Program Menus
2012, Feeding America and University of Minnesota, School of Public Health
Selected Excerpts and FAQs

Cross-sector collaboration and an appropriate program model key to success of school food pantries

The school pantry program is growing. Our study of 8 food banks across the US highlights the need for buy-in across schools, school districts, and food banks in order to satisfy participant needs.

Understanding Feeding America Elementary School-Based Food Pantries
2012, Feeding America and American University
Evaluation Brief | Journal Article


Teen Hunger Research

Teens share candid thoughts on how they help manage food resources

As active participants in the acquisition and management of food in their household, teens recognize that resources and programs are often out of reach to them. They have some suggestions on how things can change.

Bringing Teens To The Table: A Focus On Food Insecurity in America
2017, Feeding America and The Urban Institute
Full Report | Urban Institute Companion Brief


Senior Hunger Research

The senior population manages multiple challenges while facing food insecurity

Seniors served by Feeding America have very diverse needs and life experiences. Key challenges raised by seniors include social isolation, low personal mobility outside and within the home, chronic health conditions, lack of transportation and dependency on others.

An Evaluation Report: Senior Food-Assistance, Related Programming, and Seniors’ Experiences across the Feeding America Network
2018, Feeding America, Edward Frongillo and Andrea Warren, University of South Carolina
Full Report | Executive Summary

Nearly 5 million seniors in the U.S. are food insecure

With the Baby Boomer generation growing older, the senior population is set to greatly increase in the coming years. The number of food-insecure seniors will likely increase as well, creating additional challenges for our country.

The State of Senior Hunger in America in 2016
2018, Feeding America, Craig Gundersen, and James Ziliak
Full Report | Two-page infographic

One in 12 seniors in the U.S. struggles with food insecurity 

The rate of food insecurity among seniors has risen and varies significantly across state lines. 

The State of Senior Hunger and Health in America in 2015
2017, Feeding America, Craig Gundersen, and James Ziliak
Full Report | Executive Summary

Food insecure seniors experience greater health risks than their counterparts

Seniors facing food insecurity are more likely to consume fewer critical nutrients for optimal aging and report chronic health conditions, including depression, asthma, and high blood pressure.

The Health Consequences of Senior Hunger in The United States: Evidence from the 1999-2014 NHANES
2017, Feeding America, Craig Gundersen, and James Ziliak, and NFESH
Full Report

Older adults served by food banks at higher risk in the years before they are eligible for safety net programs

Older adults aged 50-64 served by the Feeding America network face the most hardships compared to older cohorts. Improving policy plays a large role in ensuring food security for aging generations.

Baby Boomers and Beyond: Facing Hunger After Fifty
2015, Feeding America and AARP Foundation
Executive Summary

Senior food insecurity associated with lower nutrient intake and an increased risk for chronic health conditions

The senior population is particularly vulnerable to the negative health and nutrition implications of food insecurity. Charitable food assistance and those in the healthcare community can support at-risk seniors in a critical way. 

Spotlight On Senior Health
2014, Feeding America and NFESH
Executive Summary

Unexpected increase of food insecure seniors has large implications for assistance programs

The number of food insecure seniors in 2011 greatly surpassed the 2025 prediction. With 10,000 people turning 65 each day, access and availability of assistance programs is more important than ever. 

Spotlight On Senior Hunger
2014, Feeding America and NFESH
Executive Summary


Latino Hunger Research

Hispanic families are less likely to participate in SNAP 

Concerns about citizenship status and access barriers are significant challenges to applying for SNAP within the Hispanic population. The importance of emergency food assistance in the lives of low-income Hispanic families indicates a need for culturally competent SNAP outreach and program design. 

When the Pantry is Bare: Emergency Food Assistance and Hispanic Children
2010, Feeding America and The Urban Institute
Executive Summary | Urban Institute Brief 1 and 2