In this post, I’m going to specifically delve into the issue of hunger in America as it relates to senior citizens. Although many may not realize it, senior citizens currently face a vast number of hunger related issues, as one in every six seniors face the threat of hunger and improper nourishment, according to Aging in Place. That’s around 8 million out of the 49 million citizens 65 years of age and older. Due to this fact, it’s reported by AARP that seniors face a healthcare bill of over 130 billion every year because of medical issues relating to hunger. When it comes to where the highest percentage of food insecure senior citizens can be found, it’s best to look directly at both race and class.
In looking at class, Aging in Place cited professor Craig Gunderson of the University of Illinois in stating that the main areas where food insecurity is increasing the most is among Americans making less than $30,000 per year and those between the ages of 60 and 69. A large part of this comes from a decrease in wages and overall net worth, because of the fact that many seniors lost a lot of money when the stock market crashed, and weren’t able to recover as they entered retirement, Gunderson said. In information provided by the National Council on Aging, “⅓ of senior households has no money left over each month or is in debt after meeting essential expenses” (NCOA), further hurting seniors’ fight against hunger.
As for race, African-Americans and Hispanic seniors were found to have the highest rates of food insecurity, according to a 2008 Census Bureau report. When comparing African-American seniors to white seniors, their chances of having some level of food insecurity was at 50% and 16%, respectively. And Hispanic seniors were more likely to experience food security than non-hispanic seniors at a 40% to 17% difference. In taking both of these minority groups together, it was found that someone is more likely to be food insecure if they are widowed, divorced, or living alone.
Senior hunger in America is a problem though that is only getting worse. Move for Hunger stated that “Senior citizens are the fastest-growing food insecure population in the United States”, and that “For the first time ever, there are more than 10 million older Americans who are unsure of where they will find their next meal” (Move for Hunger). Furthermore, compared to 2001, the fraction of marginal food insecure, food insecure, and very low food secure seniors increased by 27%, 45%, and 100%, in data given by The State of Senior Hunger in America 2016 Annual Report.
The bottom line is that senior hunger in America, though perhaps underreported, is one of the top problems that America faces when it comes to hunger in our country. Hopefully this post helped to illuminate part of the issue. Thank you all for reading.
Beam, Dan. “Food Insecurity Among Senior Citizens Growing As Population Ages” Move For Hunger, 2017.
“Economic Security for Seniors Facts” National Council on Aging, 2018.
“The Fact Behind Senior Hunger” Aging In Place, 2018.
Ziliak, James, et al. “The State of Senior Hunger in America: An Annual Report” Feeding America, 2018.