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In Focus: The National Response to Senior Hunger

The National Response to Senior Hunger is a national initiative aiming to solve the complexities of Senior Hunger. The first step was the convening of a Steering Committee to assist us in formulating and implementing our plans...


The Face of Senior Hunger in America

Using data from the 2001-2005 Current Population Survey (CPS), a nationally representative survey of over 50,000 households per year, along with the Core Food Security Module, we examined the characteristics of persons aged 60 and over who were (a) marginally food insecure; (b) food insecure and thus at-risk of hunger; and (c) very low food secure and thus suffering from hunger. In the United States through the mid 2000's we found that:

 - Over 5 million seniors—11.4 percent of all seniors—experienced some form of food insecurity (i.e., were marginally food insecure). Of these, about 2.5 million were at-risk of hunger, and about 750,000 suffered from hunger due to financial constraints.
 - Some groups of seniors are more likely to be at-risk of hunger. Relative to their representation in the overall senior population, those with limited incomes, under age 70, African-Americans, Hispanics, never-married individuals, renters, and persons living in the South are all more likely to be at-risk of hunger.
 - While certain groups of seniors are at greater-risk of hunger, hunger cuts across the income spectrum. For example, over 50% of all seniors who are at-risk of hunger have incomes above the poverty line. Likewise, it is present in all demographic groups. For example, over two-thirds of seniors at-risk of hunger are white.
 - There are marked differences in the risk of hunger across family structure, especially for those seniors living alone, or those living with a grandchild. Those living alone are twice as likely to experience hunger compared to married seniors. One in five senior households with a grandchild (but no adult child) present is at-risk of hunger compared to about one in twenty households without a grandchild present.
 - Seniors living in non-metropolitan areas are as likely to experience food insecurity as those living in metropolitan areas, suggesting that food insecurity cuts across the urban-rural continuum.

The above is an excerpt from The Causes, Consequences and Future of Senior Hunger in America; a groundbreaking study conducted by the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and Iowa State University.

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