Nearly 9 million Americans 50 and older face the risk of hunger, including 8.65 percent of older Arizonans according to new research commissioned by AARP Foundation. The report, “Food Insecurity Among Older Adults”, found more than nine percent of older Americans were at risk of hunger in 2009, a 79 percent increase since 2001.
See Also: AARP’s four-part online documentary series, Hungry in America
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 with 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.
“The findings give us a fuller picture of hunger risk facing Americans 50 and over, but sadly it’s bleaker than before,” said David Mitchell, AARP Arizona State Director. “The economy and recession have taken a toll on older people, especially those in the middle class. Between 2007 and 2009, the most dramatic increase in food insecurity was found to be among those with annual incomes more than twice the poverty line.”
The report builds on earlier research commissioned by Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) to examine hunger among people 60 and older. AARP Foundation is working with hunger relief organizations, like MOWAA, to combat the growing problem of hunger among older Americans.
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 50s was twice that of whites over the years studied.
AARP and AARP Foundation are working to end hunger among older Americans through the 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 Feeding America member food banks.
“No one in Arizona or in this country should go hungry, with compassion and collaboration, we can solve this problem,” added Mitchell.
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