Senior Food Insecurity Studies

The State of Senior Hunger in America in 2019

Our research on food insecurity among seniors aims to identify the prevalence of senior hunger and to understand seniors' unique needs, characteristics, and risk factors. The research studies highlighted on this page inform our programs and efforts to eliminate senior hunger.

 

The State of Senior Hunger in America

In August 2021, Feeding America released The State of Senior Hunger in America, 2019. 2021 marks the fifth consecutive year that Feeding America produced The State of Senior Hunger report series. To produce the report series, Feeding America partnered with Dr. Craig Gundersen (Baylor University, Feeding America Technical Advisory Group (TAG) member and Principal Investigator of Map the Meal Gap)and Dr. James P. Ziliak (University of Kentucky). The State of Senior Hunger annual report series documents the prevalence of food insecurity among the senior population age 60 and older, as well as adults age 50-59, at the national, state, and metro area levels.

The most recent report, The State of Senior Hunger in America 2019, presents 2019 data from the Current Population Survey, the most recent year for which data are available. Findings reveal that 5.2 million seniors (7.1%, or 1 in 14) were food insecure in 2019. There were no significant changes in food insecurity among seniors from 2018 to 2019 (5.3 million in 2018 vs. 5.2 million in 2019); however, seniors were still facing higher levels of food insecurity than before the Great Recession that started in December 2007. State-level rates of food insecurity among seniors ranged from 2.9% in Minnesota to 13.5% in the District of Columbia. The study also includes analysis of metropolitan areas, with senior food insecurity rates ranging from 2.3% in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (MN) to 13.7% in the Memphis (TN) area.

The 2021 release also includes Hunger Among Adults Age 50-59 2019. Findings reveal that in 2019, an estimated 9.5% (1 in 11) of adults age 50-59 were food insecure. At the state level, rates ranged from 3.5% in Colorado to 16.9% in Kentucky. At the metropolitan area level, rates ranged from 3.4% in the Denver-Aurora area (CO) to 16.7% in the Oklahoma City (OK) area. With the senior population expected to grow in the decades to come, this analysis reveals the challenges faced today by millions of aging adults and provides insight into the future challenges that the next generation of seniors may face.

This year’s State of Senior Hunger report series includes findings from the 1999-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The reports document trends in how health and nutrition outcomes among food secure and food insecure seniors and adults age 50-59 have changed between 1999 and 2016.

The report, The Health Consequences of Senior Hunger in the United States, shows that food insecure seniors consumed lower quantities of key nutrients. For example, food insecure seniors had intake levels of iron (13.3%), calcium (9.7%), and protein (9.2%) that were lower than food secure seniors. In addition, for a wide array of health outcomes, food insecure seniors were worse-off than food secure seniors. Food insecure seniors were more likely to have depression (262%), asthma (78%), diabetes (74%), and congestive heart failure (71%).

The report, The Health Consequences of Hunger Among Adults Age 50-59 in the United States shows that food insecure older adults had significantly lower nutrient intakes in comparison to food secure older adults. For example, food insecure older adults had intake levels of vitamin A (14.9%), vitamin C (12.9%), and iron (7.1%) that were lower than food secure older adults. In addition, for a wide array of health outcomes, food insecure adults age 50-59 were worse-off than food secure older adults. Adults in their 50s who were food insecure were more likely to have depression (200%), congestive heart failure (100%), and asthma (64%).

 

Related Materials - 2021 release:
Report Archive

The State of Senior Hunger (Release 2020):

The State of Senior Hunger (Release 2019):

The State of Senior Hunger (Release 2018):

The 2018 release of The State of Senior Hunger (based on data from 2016) includes the following reports:

The State of Senior Hunger (Release 2017):

The 2017 release of The State of Senior Hunger (based on data from 2015) includes the following reports:

Spotlight on Senior Health(Release: 2014)

Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans used data from the NHANES survey to document the health and nutrition implications of food insecurity among seniors aged 60 and older.

Spotlight on Senior Hunger(Release: 2013)

Spotlight on Senior Hunger(using 2011 data) used Current Population Survey data to identify national and state-level trends in senior food insecurity, exploring some determinants of senior food insecurity, including race/ethnicity, age, income, and living with a disability.

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