Hunger Risk for Older Americans Spikes 79% Since 2001

The number of Americans aged 50 and older who faced the risk of hunger in 2009 rose 79% since 2001, reveals new research commissioned by AARP Foundation.

The report, “Food Insecurity Among Older Adults,” found that nine million older Americans, which is more than 9%, were at risk of hunger in 2009. Researchers James Ziliak, from the University of Kentucky, and Craig Gundersen, from the University of Illinois, attribute this high number to those in the 50-59 age category being too young for Social Security, yet too old to qualify for programs designed for families with children.

“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.”


Also included in the report are demographic details, including hunger trends among older African Americans and Hispanics, where the risk of hunger is doubled, compared to whites.

Regionally, people residing in Southern states were much more likely to be at hunger risk, as seven out of 10 of the states with the highest food insecurity were in the South.

The research was announced at the Meals on Wheels Association of America’s annual conference, held in Chicago, in conjunction with AARP’s work with hunger relief organizations.


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

View the report here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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