Section I. Food Insecurity Aging Society:
The United States is experiencing social issues related to food insecurity and hunger. Current research states that older adults are especially vulnerable to food insecurity. In a study published in the Journal of Urban Health states, “Among the 14.6% of American households experiencing food insecurity, approximately 2 million are occupied by older adults” (Chung, Gallo, Giunta, Canavan, Parikh, & Fahs, 2011, p. 1). Since the year 2011 the Athens Community Council on Aging reports, “Almost 9 million older adults in the United States are at risk for hunger, and Georgia is 8th in state rankings for older adult risk of hunger” (2014, p. 1). Fortunately, in North America, hunger seldom reaches extreme levels of starvation. Researchers’ instead look at food insecurity as a way to monitor needs in our society (North, I, 2001).
What is the definition of food insecurity? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as not being able to acquire nutritionally adequate and safe food during the course of a year (D.C. Hunger, 2014). There are several factors that contribute to food insecurity in the oldest-of-old population for instance poverty, lack of access, chronic illness, and functional ability.
According to the Georgia Food Bank Association, “Food insecurity issues exists within the State of Georgia at the rate of 20 % and nearly 1 in 5 Georgians are food insecure and struggling with hunger, well above the national average. Seniors with special dietary needs and larger households due to the economic distress of family members are increasingly turning to food pantries for help.”
Poverty is a determinant for the incidence of food insecurity and varies according to location. The Athens Clarke county area has a poverty rate of 28.3 percent, which equals to over 26,000 Clarke County residents living in poverty, and nearly 11,000 households. This is the 8th highest rate in the State of Georgia out of a total of 159 counties. This rate is more than double the state’s rate at 13.0 percent (prosperousathens, 2014).
Statistical data provided by the Administration on Aging report, “Over 3.9 million elderly persons (9.1%) were below the poverty level in 2012. This poverty rate is statistically different from the poverty rate in 2011 (8.7%). Another 2.4 million or 5.5% of the elderly were classified as near-poor” (AoA, 2014, p.1).
Lack of access with transportation for the oldest-of-old may contribute to food insecurity. The aged may have the means to buy food however; they are unable to access food because of their inability to drive or not owning a vehicle to visit grocery stores. Food deserts may exist posing problems for citizens. Food deserts “are parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers” (American...