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February 11, 2022

Community Outreach In Focus: ‘Food Insecurity’

Community Outreach In Focus: ‘Food Insecurity’

By Colleen Scott, Advocacy Specialist

Food insecurity is a public health threat affecting nearly 7.3 million older Americans and 13.7 percent of older adults in New York State.

Up to half of older adults are at risk of malnutrition, a dangerous health condition that can lead to hospital costs 300% higher than for individuals who receive adequate nutrition.

Minority and rural communities are disproportionately affected by food insecurity, especially people living in food deserts, which are places with limited access to a variety of healthy and affordable food.

Meanwhile, health disparities – which disproportionately affect communities of color – often lead to physical ailments that make it harder for individuals to travel to the nearest supermarket, even in areas where healthy food is generally considered to be accessible.

Economic disadvantages cause an additional strain, making it less likely that older adults have access to private transportation or can afford the cost of paying for trips to the grocery store. Similarly, older adults in rural areas often do not have supermarkets close by, nor access to public transportation networks that put healthy food options within reach.

The USDA-ERS reports that households in rural areas accounted for 17.7% of all food-insecure households in 2016. In addition to these access challenges, rural households also experience barriers in obtaining adequate health care, leading to greater disparities and physical manifestations that impact an individual’s mobility.


Resources to Help

There are resources to help older adults, particularly those individuals who are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity: