Americans living in the south are the hungriest citizens in the nation, according to a study from the Meals on Wheels Association (MOWA).

Senior Hunger in the United States: Differences Across States and Rural Areas
discovered that underneath the overall statistic that hunger is a growing industry in the U.S., it’s even worse among older Americans. 700,000 more seniors faced the risks of hunger in 2007 than in 2001, MOWA found.

There is great geographic variability for senior hunger: the risk of hunger among seniors ranges from a low of 1.5% in North Dakota to 12.3% in Mississippi.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
Being marginally food insecure is roughly equivalent to being 14 years older, MOWA calculates. Senior hunger puts older people at risk of being in poor or fair health (versus good health); having lower intakes of energy and vitamins; and, losing the ability to conduct the normal activities of daily living (ADLs).

It’s simple to blame “poverty” on food insecurity in seniors, but it’s more complex than that. The underlying drivers of food insecurity include education (where high school drop-outs have higher rates of hunger); being divorced or separated, or living with a grandchild; renting (vs. owning a home); and, being African-American or Hispanic.

How to end senior hunger? MOWA has a goal: to end senior hunger by 2020. Public policies that address the underlying factors listed such as stay-in-school policies and bolstering good jobs are no-brainers. In the meantime and short-term, MOWA has a variety of programs on its website to help fill the gap before the decade’s end.