Elderly Nutrition

Senior Nutrition and Hunger

The Issue:

In the United States of America, no senior citizen should go hungry. Unfortunately, hunger among our elderly population is a growing crisis—hunger rates have more than doubled for poor seniors in the United States in recent years.  Food insecurity among elders increases disability, decreases resistance to infection, and extends hospital stays.  Moreover, many seniors struggling to live on meager budgets opt to skip meals in order to purchase medication instead. It is important not only from a moral perspective but also from a financial perspective that every senior in America has access to adequate nutrition. 

Why It Matters:


  • The Center for American Progress estimates that senior hunger will increase the costs of illness each year in the United States by $130.5 billion. [1]
  • In 2012, 5.3 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure. This constitutes 9 percent of all seniors. Food insecure seniors are at increased risk for chronic health conditions, even when controlling for other factors such as income [2]:
    • 60 percent more likely to experience depression
    • 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack
    • 52 percent more likely to develop asthma
    • 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure


Economic Impact

  • In 2013, 10 percent of seniors (4.2 million older adults age 65 and older) lived below the poverty line. [2]
  • While we all celebrate the increase in lifespan, maintaining health while aging comes with a price. Without support from programs like Meals on Wheels, millions of seniors are forced to prematurely trade their homes for nursing facilities. It costs less to provide a senior Meals on Wheels for an entire year than it costs to spend one day in the hospital or six days in a nursing home. Meals on Wheels saves us all billions of dollars in unnecessary Medicaid and Medicare expenses every year – tax dollars that can be spent in much better ways. [3]
  • One-third of senior households has no money left over each month or is in debt after meeting essential expenses. (4]

Federal Nutrition Assistance

  • Elderly households are much less likely to receive help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than non-elderly households, even when expected benefits are roughly the same. [2]
  • Seniors require greater consideration towards their health and medical needs that can become compromised when there is not enough food to eat.  A study which examined the health and nutritional status of seniors found that food insecure seniors had significantly lower intakes of vital nutrients in their diets when compared to their food secure counterparts.  In addition, food insecure seniors were 2.33 times more likely to report fair/poor health status and had higher nutritional risk. [2]


Be Part of the Solution:

Solving elderly nutrition problems will require cross-sector collaboration. If individual donors, businesses, and the government work together to provide necessary support, there’s no reason any senior should go hungry and suffer the health and economic consequences listed above.  America’s Charities members are committed to addressing senior hunger, and by supporting these organizations, you can help the elderly live healthier, happier “golden years.”

Workplace Giving:

Empower employees to donate via payroll deduction to charities addressing senior hunger. Learn more.

Corporate Philanthropy & Cause Marketing:

Align your company’s philanthropy efforts with a cause like senior hunger. See how America’s Charities can help you.

Donate Online:

Use America’s Charities website to learn about, connect with, and give to charities addressing senior hunger. Give now.


[1] National Foundation to End Senior Hunger

[2] Feeding America

[3] Meals on Wheels

[4] National Council on Aging