Senior Hunger Research

Existing research on the older population reveals that individuals of advanced age also struggle with food insecurity and may be particularly vulnerable, due to the negative health and nutrition implications of food insecurity. To better understand the complex relationships between food insecurity, older age and other factors, Feeding America partners with leading external organizations to release timely and relevant research on hunger among older adults and seniors.

In 2018, Feeding America produced The State of Senior Hunger in America in 2016 and partnered to release the study with the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). The findings reveal that in 2016, 4.9 million seniors (7.7% of the senior population) were food insecure. The rate and number of food-insecure seniors dropped between 2014 and 2016 (the change from 2015 to 2016 was statistically insignificant), but they remain substantially higher than in 2007. Moreover, the current number of seniors who are food insecure is still more than double the number in 2001. State-level rates of food insecurity among seniors ranged from 3.4% in North Dakota to 14.1% in Louisiana.

The 2018 release marks the second time that Feeding America produced The State of Senior Hunger in America. As part of the first release, in 2017, an additional report about health implications for food-insecure seniors was produced. Entitled The Health Consequences of Senior Hunger in the United States, that report found that food-insecure seniors consume fewer calories and lower quantities of key nutrients than food-secure seniors, and food insecurity among seniors is associated with negative health conditions, such as depression, asthma, and high blood pressure.

The 2018 release of The State of Senior Hunger in America serves as an update to two Spotlight studies on senior food insecurity that Feeding America and NFESH previously released together (Spotlight on Senior Hunger in 2013 and Spotlight on Senior Health in 2014).

Previously, in 2015, Feeding America released a study funded by the AARP Foundation to examine the circumstances of the 13 million individuals age 50 and older who receive charitable food assistance through the Feeding America network each year. Baby Boomers and Beyond: Facing Hunger after Fifty is the result of analyses of the Hunger in America 2014 study data. The circumstances of clients age 50 and older were examined due to the unique and particularly vulnerable position of pre-entitlement and pre-retirement age older adults.