Nearly 1 Out of 10 Seniors Faces Food Insecurity

Report Sheds Light on Senior Hunger

As part of Older Americans Month, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank announced the results of The State of Senior Hunger in America in 2017, a study about food insecurity among seniors in the United States published by Feeding America®.

At 9.6%, Rhode Island is among the ten states with the highest rates of food insecurity. And the percentage of seniors who face the most severe levels of food insecurity is the highest in the country at 5.4%.

“At the Food Bank, we estimate that 20% of the people we serve are over the age of sixty,” said Rhode Island Community Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff. “This report from Feeding America confirms that Rhode Island has one of the highest rates of food insecure seniors in the country and challenges us to do more to help meet the needs of this vulnerable population.”

The report sheds light on the extent to which food insecurity, or lack of access to nutritious food, affects seniors age 60 and older in the United States, offering deeper insights into the experience of food insecurity among the aging population. The report shows that, nationally, 5.5 million seniors age 60 or older (7.7 percent) were food insecure in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

“Many of the seniors experiencing hunger have very limited incomes and reduced mobility, adding to the challenges of acquiring healthy, nutritious food,” said Schiff. “If you have no money and no way to travel, how do you get food into your home?”

One of the ways the Food Bank helps is through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), a federal initiative which delivers a box of healthy food to seniors once a month. Currently, approximately 1,500 seniors participate, receiving a “Senior Box” through their public housing or at a local senior center.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Food-insecure seniors live in communities across the country, including all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In 2017, senior food insecurity rates at the state level range from 2.8% in Minnesota to 12.3% in Louisiana.
  • Rhode Island, with 9.6% of seniors food insecure, falls in the high end of that range.
  • Rhode Island’s rate of seniors with very low food insecurity is the highest in the country at 5.4%

For the third consecutive year, The State of Senior Hunger in America was produced by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief charity with a nationwide network of 200 food banks, including the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. The study was conducted by researchers Dr. James P. Ziliak and Dr. Craig Gundersen and is the source for national-, state- and metro-level information about food insecurity among seniors age 60 and older.

The full report can be found at