New research by the AARP Foundation has found that 6.5 percent of older Kansans face the risk of hunger. Those Kansans are part of the 9 million Americans, age 50 and older, who are at risk.
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The research, included in the report, “Food Insecurity Among Older Adults,” found that more than nine percent of older Americans were at risk of hunger in 2009—a 79 percent increase since 2001.
The research, produced by James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Craig Gundersen of the University of Illinois, is the first of its kind to examine hunger risk among people age 50 to 59—the youngest of the baby boomers. Because they are typically too young for Social Security and too old to qualify for programs designed for families and children, this age group can be hit particularly hard in bad economic times. In 2009, 4.9 million 50- to 59-year olds were at risk of hunger, representing a staggering 38 percent increase over 2007.
“We now have a fuller picture of hunger risk among all Americans age 50+. But sadly, it’s far more bleak than before,” said AARP Kansas Director Maren Turner. “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.”
The report also examined hunger trends among older African Americans and Hispanics, finding that the risk of hunger remains alarmingly higher among these groups than whites. The risk of hunger for African Americans and Hispanics in their 50’s was twice that of whites over the years studied. In addition, the study provided detailed analyses of hunger risk across states and major metropolitan areas, finding that hunger risk was notably higher among those residing in the South.
AARP Foundation is working to end hunger among older Americans through its Drive to End Hunger campaign. The effort is raising awareness of hunger in America and collecting donations to end the crisis. To date the Foundation has donated more than 3 million meals through local hunger relief organizations, including $10,000 to the Kansas Food Bank and $10,000 to Harvesters to assist with hunger relief efforts in Kansas. The Foundation also has a grant making program to fund innovative hunger-fighting efforts across the country.