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One in 10 Kentucky Seniors in Grip of Hunger

A Kentucky senior leaves a food bank, where the fight against hunger often serves those 60 and older. (Kentucky Assn. of Food Banks)
A Kentucky senior leaves a food bank, where the fight against hunger often serves those 60 and older. (Kentucky Assn. of Food Banks)
August 17, 2017

BEREA, Ky. – A new report finds that nearly one out of every 10 seniors in Kentucky is food insecure, meaning that those seniors are unable to consistently access or afford adequate amounts of food.

The just-released "The State of Senior Hunger in America" study is from 2015, and it focuses on the health and economic impacts of hunger on people age 60 and older.

Tamara Sandberg, executive director of Kentucky Association of Food Banks, describes the consequences when a senior isn't able to get nutritious food on a consistent basis.

"They're making choices that nobody should have to make, especially at the end of a long life of working hard,” she states. “Many of our senior citizens tell us they're having to choose between paying for food and paying their utilities. Sixty-seven percent, actually, of food bank clients have to make that choice."

The report finds that 5.4 million American seniors were considered food insecure in 2015. That's just over 8 percent of the nation's 60-plus population, and it's the first decline since 2009.

But at 9.8 percent, Kentucky remains on the high end, with the 11th highest rate among states.

One out of every five Kentuckians served by the state's network of food banks is 60 or older, and Sandberg says hunger continues to have a negative impact on the health of too many seniors.

"They're more likely to have depression,” she states. “They're more likely to have asthma, chest pain and activities of daily living limitations. And they're more likely to have high blood pressure."

Sandberg says seniors who are food insecure consume fewer calories and lower quantities of key nutrients to keep them healthy.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY