Senior Food Insecurity Studies

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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 are used to inform our programs and efforts to eliminate senior hunger.

The State of Senior Hunger in America

The State of Senior Hunger in America annual report series documents the prevalence of food insecurity among the senior population age 60 and older in the United States. It identifies the geographic variation in food insecurity among seniors, providing data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The most recent report, released in 2019 using 2017 data, found that 5.5 million seniors, or 7.7% of the senior population, were food insecure in 2017. The rate of food insecurity among seniors is lower in recent years but remains significantly higher than it was in 2007. The current number of seniors who are food insecure is more than double what it was in 2001. State-level rates of food insecurity among seniors range from 2.8% in Minnesota to 12.3% in Louisiana. For the first time, the study now includes analysis of metropolitan areas, with senior food insecurity rates ranging from 3% in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to 17.3% in the Memphis area.

The 2019 release of the study also included the introduction of a new report: Hunger Among Adults Age 50-59 in 2017. Findings reveal that in 2017, an estimated 11.3%, or 4.8 million, of older adults age 50-59 are food insecure. At the state level, rates range from 4.1% in Colorado to 18.6% in Kentucky, and at the metropolitan area level, rates range from 5.3% in the Denver-Aurora area (CO) to 19.6% in the Hartford area (CT). 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 may be faced by the next generation of seniors.

This research was conducted by Dr. Craig Gundersen and Dr. James Ziliak using data from the Current Population Survey.

Related Materials - 2019 Release

 

Report Archive

The State of Senior Hunger

2018 Release 

2017 Release

 

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.