This study is the first in a series of annual reports on the state of senior hunger in the United States. In the report we provide an overview of the extent and distribution of food insecurity in 2010, along with trends over the past decade using national and state-level data from the December Supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Based on the full set of 18 questions in the Core Food Security Module (CFSM), the module used by the USDA to establish the official food insecurity rates of households in the United States, our emphasis here is on quantifying the senior population facing the threat of hunger (i.e. marginally food insecure). A supplement to this report also presents evidence on seniors at risk of hunger (i.e. food insecure) and on seniors facing hunger (i.e. very low food secure).
The Great Recession has caused extreme hardship on many families in the United States, and senior Americans are no exception. Based on the barometer of food insecurity, this report demonstrates that our seniors may face more challenges than initially thought. Unlike the population as a whole, food insecurity among those age 60 and older actually increased between 2009 and 2010. These increases were most pronounced among the near poor, whites, widows, non-metro residents, the retired, women, and among households with no grandchildren present.
Specifically, in 2010 we find that:
-14.85% of seniors, or more than 1 in 7, face the threat of hunger. This translates into 8.3 million seniors. In contrast, in Ziliak, et al. (2008) we reported that as of 2005 1 in 9 seniors faced the threat of hunger.
-Those living in states in the South and Southwest, those who are racial or ethnic minorities, those with lower incomes, and those who are younger (ages 60-69) are most likely to be threatened by hunger.
-Out of those seniors who face the threat of hunger, the majority have incomes above the poverty line and are white.
-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 to 2010, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger has increased by 34%.