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Who’s Hungry? Many Have Trouble Affording Food

This is a guest post by Becky Squires. Becky is a writer-editor for AARP Foundation.

The United States might be the land of plenty, but many people cannot afford to buy what’s on offer – including food.

A new Gallup survey conducted from January to June 2012 found one in four Mississippians (24.9%) said they could not afford to buy food for themselves or their families at least once over the past year. Alabama (22.9%) and Delaware (22.1%) ranked second and third in the percentage of those who are struggling to afford food.  The states with the smallest hunger problems were North Dakota, where 9.6% said they were struggling, followed by South Dakota (11.8%)  and Vermont (11.9%).

The Gallup survey findings are very similar to a report issued by AARP Foundation in August 2011, Food Insecurity Among Older Adults. This was the first-ever report to focus on the hunger issues among Americans age 50-59, and it found nearly 9 million Americans age 50+ face the risk of hunger, an increase of 79% since 2001.

Food Insecurity Among Older Adults also surveyed older adults state-by-state and discovered, like Gallup, that the percentage of older people threatened by hunger was higher in Mississippi than any other state: For those 50-59, it was 13.8 %; for those 60+, it was 12.5%.  The states with the lowest percentage of hungry people 50+ were North Dakota, 2.5%; Minnesota, 3.7%; and New Hampshire, 3.9%.

Senior Hunger is on the rise

The results of both surveys indicate hunger is still a significant problem for many in our country. Food Insecurity Among Older Adults used data from 2001-2009; the Gallup survey is based on information from 2011 and 2012.

No one should go hungry in the U.S. today.  Yet, devastatingly, there are hungry people in every community.  (See the face of hunger: Watch the  Hungry in America documentary videos.) Join the AARP and AARP Foundation Drive to End Hunger in observing Hunger Awareness Month this September by donating food, money and/or your time to local food banks.

Drive to End Hunger is AARP Foundation’s multipronged focus on the problem of older adult hunger in America. We’re taking steps to feed those who are hungry now while also developing long-term, sustainable solutions to the root causes of hunger among those 50 and older. Donate today to support our efforts.

Photo credit: Ray Hendley