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Older Adults

Advocacy List

Senior Hunger Hurts Pennsylvania

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. 2012.

  • Over 347,000 Pennsylvania seniors are food insecure.
  • 34,533 Pennsylvania seniors receive monthly, nutritious food boxes through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
  • Hunger affects seniors' health by decreasing activity and mobility, impeding their ability to heal quickly, limiting the number of vital vitamins and nutrients received through an adequate diet, and increasing the likelihood of chronic disease and the length of hospital stays.

The State of Senior Hunger in America 2011: An Annual Report

Ziliak, J.P. & Gundersen, C. National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. August 2013.

  • In 2011, 15.2% of Pennsylvania's seniors were at risk of hunger.
  • The majority of seniors at risk of hunger throughout the U.S. had incomes above the poverty line.
  • Younger seniors - those ages 60-69 - are more likely to experience food insecurity than their older peers.

Spotlight on Food Insecurity among Senior Americans: 2011

Ziliak, J.P. & Gundersen, C.  National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. April 2013.

  • 4.8 million individuals over age 60 (8.4%) experienced food insecurity.
  • The number of food insecure seniors has more than doubled since 2001.

Food Insecurity Among Older Adults - Policy Brief 

Ziliak, J.P. and Gundersen, C.  AARP Foundation. Aug. 2011.

Controlling for other factors, food insecure seniors are...

  • 5X more likely to be depressed
  • 2X more likely to be diabetic
  • 2X more likely to have limitations in activities of daily living (ADL)
  • Less likely to be in good or excellent health

In any given year from 2001-2009:

  • 15.6 million seniors were marginally food insecure
  • 8.8 million seniors were food insecure
  • 3.5 million seniors experienced hunger (very low food security)

Senior Hunger: The Human Toll and Budget Consequences

U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions - Subcommittee on Primary Health & Aging. June 2011.

  • About 50% of all health conditions  affecting seniors are directly related to a lack of nutrients.
  • The cost of 1 year of home-delivered meals is equivalent to the cost of 1 day in the hospital.

State Trends in SNAP and Participation Among Elderly Individuals

Karen Cunnyngham. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Nov. 2010.

  • SNAP participation by seniors in Pennsylvania increased 66% from 2000 - 2007.
  • The average monthly SNAP benefit for elderly Pennsylvanians in 2007 was only $98 - equivalent to $1.16 per meal.  

The Elder Economic Security Initiative Program: The Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Pennsylvania

Pathways PA, The Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, and Wider Opportunities for Women. May 2008.

According to the Federal Poverty Guidelines in 2007, a person was considered to be in poverty if they received $10,210 or less per year. Poverty guidelines are used to determine eligibility for programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program used by many low-income seniors.

Taking into account resources and basic expenditures, the economic security standard for 1 elderly person in 2007 was:

  • City of Pittsburgh: $15,985
  • Allegheny County (outside city limits): $16,415

The Causes, Consequences, and Future of Senior Hunger in America

Gundersen, Haist and Ziliak. 2007.

  • "Being marginally food insecure is roughly equivalent to being 14 years older.”
  • Food insecure seniors are more likely to be in poor health, get limited amounts of vital nutrients through their diet, and have limitations in activities of daily living.

Participation in Food Assistance Programs Modifies Relation of Food Insecurity with Weight and Depression in Seniors

Kim, K. & Frongillo, E. The Journal of Nutrition. Jan. 2007.

Compared to their food-secure peers, food insecure seniors have been shown to be at increased risk for:

  • Depression
  • Higher body-mass index (BMI)
  • Being overweight

These risks were shown to decrease when seniors participated in a food/nutrition assistance program.