Rising Food Insecurity and Conservative Policy in the US: Impact on the Elderly

Peter S. Arno, Kenneth A. Knapp, Stephan Russo, Deborah Viola

Abstract


Food insecurity, a critical problem in the developing world, has recently received increased attention among wealthy nations. Food insecurity, broadly defined, is when a lack of resources prevents household members from having enough food. In the US, food insecurity has been rising while social safety net programs to ameliorate hunger among at-risk households have been targeted for cuts by conservatives. Our main objective was to assess the prevalence and impact of food insecurity among the elderly. In a survey of 500 older, homebound meal clients in New York City, we found that nearly one in five (17%) is food insecure, 89% endure chronic health problems, 14% live with severe functional impairments, 38% are in declining health, and 10% experience unmet needs for services. New York City’s oldest community residents have serious health problems, multiple unmet social service needs, and often suffer from food insecurity. Understanding the relationship between these issues is critical if community organizations and government agencies at all levels—even in wealthy countries—are to be more effective in assuring the well being of their oldest residents.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22158/wjssr.v2n1p13

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