Read the Brief: Helping Older Adults Struggling Against Hunger Access Food in the Age of COVID-19
This brief explores four available actions to minimize exposure to COVID-19 through person-to-person contact when it comes to older adults accessing food.
Watch: SNAP Matters for Older Adults
Learn more about food resources for Older Americans during COVID-19
This one page brief highlights changes to Federal Nutrition Assistance programs and how they relate to Older Adults during COVID-19.
FRAC referrals for food assistance and Older Adults during COVID-19
This chart breaks down resources from U.S. Department of Agriculture—Food and Nutrition Service and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services–Administration for Community Living to assist Older Adults in need of food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chart breaks things down further by taking programs you may already be familiar with and explaining how the programs work and how they are responding at this critical time.
This chart breaks down emergency food resources by the Federal Nutrition Programs for Older Adults.
SNAP Map: SNAP Matters to Seniors
It’s time to close the older Americans SNAP gap! Explore our new interactive mapping tool, developed with AARP Foundation, to see how many eligible older Americans (60+) are using — and missing out on — SNAP in your state.
Data Analysis Reveals that Millions of Households with Older Americans Rely on SNAP to Stave Off Hunger
One in 10 of the nation’s 43.8 million households with older Americans (age 60+) participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), on average each year between 2012–2016. This is according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed in interactive tools released today by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), in collaboration with AARP Foundation.
Free Online Course to Help Health Care Providers Address Hunger Among Older Adults
Screen and Intervene: Addressing Food Insecurity Among Older Adults
In just 60 minutes, health care providers and community-based partners can learn how to screen patients age 50 and older for food insecurity and connect them to key nutrition resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The course, developed by FRAC and the AARP Foundation, is approved for 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ (MDs and DOs). All other learners can download a certificate of participation upon completion of the course. See the course for more information.
Did You Know?
Too many of our nation’s older adults struggle against hunger. In 2019, 8.9 percent – 4.8 million – of people aged 65 and over lived in poverty in the United States. Millions more households with seniors face marginal food security.
One in 10 of the nation’s 43.8 million households with adults (age 60+) participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), on average each year between 2012–2016.
SNAP Matters to Seniors factsheets are available for every state.
Follow this link to additional senior hunger resources in FRAC’s Resource Library.
- In 2019, 8.9% – 4.8 million – of people age 65 and over in the United States lived in poverty. 1
- In 2019, 2.9 million food-insecure households included an adult age 65 or older. This represents 7.2% of all households with an older adult (65+). 2
- 1.3 million adults age 65 or older (8.7%) who lived alone were food insecure in 2019, and approximately one million of these older adults were experiencing very low food insecurity. 3
- SNAP benefited approximately 5.1 million households with at least one older adult (60+) in FY 2018. 4 Even so, millions of eligible older adults miss out on SNAP. 5
- In 2018, the average SNAP benefit for households with an older adult was $121. 6
1 Semega, J., Kollar, M., Shrider. E., and Creamer, J. (2020) Current Population Reports, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2019. U.S. Census Bureau
2 Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M. P., Gregory, C. A., & Singh, A. (2020). Household food security in the United States in 2019. Economic Research Report, 275. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
4 Cronquist, K. (2020). Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2018. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.
5 FRAC Interactive Map: SNAP Participation Rates Among Eligible Seniors (Age 60+) in an Average Month in FY 2015.
6 Cronquist, K. Characteristics
SNAP is the first line of defense against senior hunger.
- Why SNAP Matters for SeniorsThe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):
- is available to every eligible senior, in every corner of the country.
- provides seniors with significant food purchasing power every month of the year.
- improves food insecurity and health, helping seniors to maintain their independence.
- reaches by far and away more seniors than any of the federal nutrition programs available to seniors.
In addition to SNAP, seniors could be eligible for additional federal programs depending on their income, health status, age, and whether the program is available in their area.
- Closing the Senior SNAP GapOnly an estimated 48 percent of eligible seniors participate in SNAP. This compares to 86 percent of non-elderly adults in FY 2017. Why?
- Misinformation about the program
- Lack of information on how to apply
- Barriers related to mobility
One of the key strategies to addressing hunger among older adults is to connect more eligible seniors to SNAP. To improve participation, FRAC is working to remove barriers facing older adults through federal legislation that will improve benefit levels, and by partnering with state officials, advocates, service providers and other stakeholders to strengthen state policies.
Source: Trends in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates: Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2017. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.
- Risk Factors for Food Insecurity Among Older AdultsCertain older adults are at higher risk for food insecurity than others. Research shows that food insecurity rates tend to be higher among older adults who are:
- Low income
- Separated or divorced, or never married
- Grandchild present
- Living with a disability
- Living with chronic diseases
- Living with functional limitations
Sources: Ziliak, J. P., & Gundersen, C. (2020). The State of Senior Hunger in America 2018. Prepared for Feeding America.
Jih, J., Stijacic-Cenzer, I., Seligman, H. K., Boscardin, W. J., Nguyen, T. T., & Ritchie, C. S. (2018). Chronic disease burden predicts food insecurity among older adults. Public Health Nutrition, 21(9), 1737–1742.
Jackson, J. A., Branscum, A., Tang, A., & Smit, E. (2019). Food insecurity and physical functioning limitations among older U.S. adults. Preventive Medicine Reports, 14, 100829.
Heflin, C. M., Altman, C. E., & Rodriguez, L. L. (2019). Food insecurity and disability in the United States. Disability and Health Journal, 12(2), 220–226.
- Older Adults Living with ChildrenOlder adults may reside in a household with children under 18 years of age (e.g., their own children, grandchildren), which can increase the likelihood of experiencing food insecurity. Parents and caregivers often try to protect children from food insecurity by, for example, sacrificing their own food and nutrition needs so that the children can eat.
National data show that:
- Rates of household food insecurity are 1.4 times higher among households with any children present (compared to households without children).
- Rates of household food insecurity are at least two times higher among households with a grandchild present (compared to households without a grandchild present).
Do, D., Rodgers, R., & Rivera Drew, J. A. (2015). Multigenerational families and food insecurity in the United States, 1998-2013. Integrated Health Interview Series, Data Brief No. 1.
Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M. P., Gregory, C. A., & Singh, A. (2019). Household food security in the United States in 2018. Economic Research Report, 270. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
Ziliak, J. P., & Gundersen, C. (2016). Multigenerational families and food insecurity. Southern Economic Journal, 82(4), 1147–1166.
- Other Federal Nutrition Programs for SeniorsIn addition to SNAP, seniors could be eligible for additional federal programs depending on their income, health status, age, and whether the program is available in their area.