Giving Compass' Take:

• New research indicates that older adults were already facing food insecurity due to issues such as cost and access to food nutrition programs. 

• How can donors understand this need as it is exacerbated by COVID-19? 

• Read how you can help isolated older adults during the pandemic.

The percentage of older adults who say they have experienced food insecurity in the past year was even higher among African American or Latino adults and those in their pre-Medicare years.

Older adults with lower household incomes and lower levels of education also had a higher likelihood of saying they had had trouble getting food.

Yet only a third of those with food affordability issues received government food aid for people with low incomes, called SNAP benefits or “food stamps” and less than 2% of those over 60 have received free meals served at senior centers or delivered to their home through programs like Meals on Wheels.

Disruptions to food supply chains, employment, and social services from COVID-19 may have worsened disparities, experts who designed the poll say.

The new results come from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, which involved a national sample of more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 80 who answered a range of questions about their food security in December 2019.

“These data suggest an important opportunity, which is likely even more urgent now, to connect older adults with resources they may not know about, and to explore public policies that could improve access,” says Cindy Leung, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Michigan and a member of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, who worked on the poll.

Read the full article about improving food security for older adults by Kara Gavin at Futurity.