A report commissioned by the AARP Foundation found that more than nine percent of Americans over the age of 50 were at risk of hunger, an increase by almost 80% from 2001.
The report, "Food Insecurity among Older Adults," focused on the youngest segment of the baby boomers, those between the ages of 50 and 59. This age group faces a unique gap in assistance programs as they are too young for entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare, but are too old to qualify for programs designed for families with children. The study found that 4.9 million people in this age group faced the risk of hunger in 2009.
Labeled as "food insecurity", those at risk of hunger was most notable among those with annual incomes above twice the poverty line (current federal poverty guidelines set the poverty level at $10,890 for individuals and $22,350 for families of four).
The highest rates of food insecurity were found in the southern states, with the highest occurring in Mississippi (13.79%), New Mexico (12.27%) and Arizona (11.07%).
Food Insecurity Map for Adults over Age 50
“This report underscores the urgency of our work and the efforts of organizations like Meals On Wheels,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Foundation President. “No one in this country—of any age—should go hungry. With compassion and collaboration, we can solve this problem.”
The foundation is using the report to highlight their "Drive to End Hunger" campaign, designed to raise awareness about older adult hunger issues throughout the country and raising funding to combat it. The campaign has led to donations of over 3 million meals in 2011 to Feeding America food banks across the U.S.