Hunger Among Older Americans Spikes Nearly 80 Percent Since 2001

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–August 30, 2011.  Nearly 9 million Americans 50 and older face the risk of hunger according to new research commissioned by AARP Foundation. The report, “Food Insecurity Among Older Adults,” found more than nine percent of older Americans were at risk of hunger in 2009—a 79 percent increase since 2001.

The research, produced by James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Craig Gundersen of the University of Illinois, is the first of its kind to examine hunger risk among people age 50 to 59—the youngest of the baby boomers. Because they are typically too young for Social Security and too old to qualify for programs designed for families with children, this age group can be hit particularly hard in bad economic times. In 2009, 4.9 million 50- to 59-year-olds were at risk of hunger, representing a staggering 38 percent increase over 2007.

“For the first time, we have a fuller picture of hunger risk among all Americans 50-plus. But sadly, it’s far more bleak than before,” said AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins. “The recession has taken an especially large toll on older people—particularly those in the middle class. Between 2007 and 2009, the most dramatic increase in food insecurity was among those with annual incomes more than twice the poverty line.”

Jenkins announced the new research at the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) annual conference in Chicago. The AARP Foundation report builds on earlier research commissioned by MOWAA to examine hunger among people 60 and older. AARP Foundation is working with hunger relief organizations, like MOWAA, to combat the growing problem of hunger among older Americans.

The report also examined hunger trends among older African Americans and Hispanics, finding that the risk of hunger remains alarmingly higher among these groups than whites. The risk of hunger for African Americans and Hispanics in their 50s was twice that of whites over the years studied. In addition, the study provided detailed analyses of hunger risk across states and major metropolitan areas, finding that hunger risk was notably higher among those residing in the South.

AARP Foundation is working to end hunger among older Americans through its Drive to End Hunger campaign. The effort is raising awareness of hunger in America and collecting donations to end the crisis. To date, the Foundation has donated more than 3 million meals through local hunger relief organizations, including Feeding America member food banks. The Foundation also recently announced a grant making program to fund innovative hunger-fighting efforts across the country.

Jenkins added: “This report underscores the urgency of our work and the efforts of organizations like Meals On Wheels. No one in this country—of any age—should go hungry. With compassion and collaboration, we can solve this problem.”

To learn more or download a copy of the policy brief or full report, please visit, http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/info-2011/Foundation_2011_Hunger_Research.html.

For more information about hunger among older Americans, please visit www.drivetoendhunger.org.

AARP’s four-part online documentary series, “Hungry in America,” is available at http://www.aarp.org/giving-back/charitable-giving/info-11-2010/hungry_in_america_a_little_goes_a_long_way.html.

Source: aarp.org