Caring For Our Elders
A Growing Concern
Poor health can be both a cause and a consequence of food insecurity for seniors aged 60 and older. For example, disability and disease contribute to employment instability and income challenges. Additionally, inadequate nutrition can increase the negative effects of disabilities and chronic health conditions.
After a lifetime of hard work, seniors whose fixed incomes have not kept pace with rising prices are increasingly at risk of hunger. Across Northwest North Carolina, seniors are having to make hard choices between using their incomes for food, or for medicine.
A new report released in 2022 looking at 2020 data, found that:
Food insecurity among seniors overall did not change significantly between 2019 and 2020 (7.1% to 6.8%). However, consistent with the overall population, there was a deepening divide along racial and ethnic lines.
The study shows that food insecurity worsened among Black seniors (from 15.5% to 19.6%) while improving for white seniors (5.0% to 4.2%), leading to wider disparities between most groups.
In 2020, Black seniors were 4.7 times as likely and Latino seniors were 3.1 times as likely to experience food insecurity compared to white seniors.
While the study does not include separate food insecurity estimates for other racial groups, it has been shown through other study and analysis that individuals who identify as Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian subgroups also have disproportionately high rates of food insecurity.
Food insecurity among older adults (50-59), which is higher relative to seniors, increased slightly overall (from 9.5% in 2019 to 10.4% in 2020). Racial disparities in food insecurity among older adults also widened from 2019 to 2020, though they are not as stark when compared to seniors.
For both seniors and older adults, both the food insecurity rate and number of food insecure individuals in 2020 remain higher compared to prior to the Great Recession. With the senior population projected to continue growing in size over the coming decades, food insecurity among aging adults is likely to remain a public health challenge for years to come.
Showing Up for Seniors
Our community-based partner food assistance network is a lifeline of support for an increasing number of seniors. As well, because we know that many seniors who are eligible to receive Food and Nutrition Services (Food Stamps) are not, we place special emphasis on reaching seniors through our outreach efforts.