Hunger Snaps: Food Insecurity Among Older Adults

Awarded Scholars:
Colleen M. Heflin, Syracuse University
Project Date:
Feb 2020
Award Amount:

Sociologist Colleen Heflin will document trends, patterns, and correlates of food insecurity among adults aged 60 or older who have incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. She will analyze data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), and the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS). In addition, IRS data on charitable organizations will document the geographic distribution of home delivered meals, senior feeding sites, senior centers, food pantries and soup kitchens. This quantitative project complements the RSF-funded qualitative study by Madonna Harrington Meyer (Syracuse University). Together, the mixed-methods study will culminate in a book manuscript that analyses the social, political, and economic mechanisms that shape old age 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. Heflin’s major research questions are: 1) Who is food insecure in old age? 2) What food and nutrition programs are available to older adults and what factors shape their program use? 3) What coping strategies are used and what factors shape their use? 4) What are the impacts of food insecurity on physical, emotional, and family wellbeing? 5) What policy alternatives might reduce their food insecurity? Each question will be the focus for one book chapter.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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