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Anthony Cirillo

Senior Hunger a Well Kept Secret

By September 3, 2012

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Senior hunger is an issue seldom talked about. Obviously it is not a burning issue for nursing homes and assisted living but other aging services providers such as adult day providers are probably sensitive to it.

The Meals On Wheels Research Foundation (MOWRF) has commissioned a series of annual reports detailing the state of senior hunger in the U.S. The 2010 research report is a follow up to the 2008 and 2009 research studies.

Here are some facts:

  • 8.3 million seniors faced the threat of hunger in 2010.
  • 14.85% of seniors, or more than 1 in 7 experienced some form of food insecurity.
  • In 2005, that number was 1 in 9 seniors or 11.4%.
  • From 2001 to 2010, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger has increased by 78%.
  • Since the onset of the recession in 2007 through 2010, the number of seniors threatened by hunger increased by 34%.

Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage of seniors threatened by hunger increased by a statistically significant amount. The recession had more enduring effects for older Americans than for the general population. For the decade as a whole, there was a 39% increase in those facing the threat of hunger, but the number of seniors affected increased 78%.

Those more likely to be at risk of hunger include:

  • Women
    Women made up more than 60% of the seniors facing the threat of hunger. Senior women were more likely to face the threat of hunger than their male counterparts and the gender gap has widened since 2009.

  • A younger senior under the age of 70.
    Seniors age 80 and older were less likely to be food insecure than 60-69 year olds.

  • African American or Hispanic
    African American seniors faced the threat of hunger more than double (132% higher) that of white seniors. Hispanic seniors faced the threat of hunger that was 131% higher than non-Hispanic seniors.

  • Living in a rural area
    Seniors in non-metro areas faced the threat of hunger that was significantly higher in 2010 than seniors in metro areas.

  • Divorced or separated or living with a grandchild
    The hunger threat among divorced or separated seniors was two and a half times greater than for married seniors. If a grandchild is present, the threat of hunger was significantly higher than in households with no grandchild present.

Take Action

Meals on Wheels has found that 6 million seniors face the threat of hunger. Their goal is to match that number - with 6 million people who are willing to stand up and pledge to do what it takes to end senior hunger. Take their pledge and get involved.

Contact your local program to deliver or prepare a meal. Meals On Wheels volunteers also provide the seniors they serve with companionship and a warm, friendly smile when they arrive at the door.

As vital contributing members of your communities, aging services providers need to better understand this issue. You can be the eyes and ears for Meals on Wheels, identifying needy community elders. And it would not be a hard stretch to think that creative activity professionals can find a way to involve residents in this cause.

Learn more ~ or join the conversation!

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