In 2017, nearly 8 percent of those aged 60 and older were food insecure, more than double the same measure in 2001, and research has not fully addressed the underlying dynamics of food insecurity in old age. Sociologist Madonna Harrington Meyer will conduct in-depth interviews with 60 people aged 60 or older with incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. She will interview 30 adults who are food insecure and 30 who are not. This qualitative project complements the RSF-funded quantitative study by Collen Heflin (Syracuse University). Together, the mixed-methods study will culminate in a book manuscript that analyzes the social, political, and economic mechanisms that shape old age food insecurity, food insecurity coping strategies, the impact of food insecurity on physical, emotional, and family wellbeing, and the policy changes that might reduce food insecurity among older adults.
Harrington Meyer will focus on sociodemographic factors such as gender, race, age, education, marital status; food insecurity and means of access to food and nutrition; participation in food and nutrition programs, including SNAP, home-delivered meals, and food commodities; coping strategies; physical wellbeing and healthcare; emotional wellbeing including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts; family wellbeing and household composition; and policy solutions that might ease food insecurity.