Living in an Insecure Food Environment

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What is Food Insecurity?

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern.
Food insecurity is the opposite of food security. It exists when people do not have adequate physical and social economic access to food.


There are 1.02 billion people in the world are malnourished. (2009 world report)
In the United States, 49.1 million people live in a food insecure household, and 17.3 million people have very low food security. For all ages, Texas is the most food insecure state a recent study.

1 out of 6 Texas households are Food Insecure

Who is at risk?

  • Poor families
  • Families with Children Households headed by single
  • women
  • African American (21.8%) and
  • Hispanic (19.5%) households experience food insecurity at far higher rates than the national average (10.9%)
  • Urban households

Senior Hunger

Over 5 million (11.4%) seniors experience some form of food insecurity in the United States. Texas ranks 4th in food insecurity amongst seniors. 

Hunger is a serious threat facing millions of seniors in the United States. Besides food-insecure status, older people eat less than the recommended amount of dietary nutrients. This elderly populations had significantly lower skin fold thickness, a measurement of appropriate body fat for normal body functioning. Seniors also have a lower overall intake of:

  • Energy
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Saturated fat
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamins B-6
  • Vitamins B-12
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Zinc

In addition, food-insecure senior populations were 2.33 times more likely to report fair or poor health status and were at higher nutritional risk. These results indicate that they have decreased dietary intakes, are at risk nutritionally, and have decreased health status. Older populations use more health, medical and other services than the general population and food insecurity can bring further physical, emotional and economic burdens to themselves, their caregivers, as well as the health care system.

Who is at risk?

  • Limited incomes
  • Under age 70
  • African-Americans, Hispanics
  • Never-married individuals
  • Renters

The Health Consequences

  • Significantly more likely to have lower intakes of energy and major vitamins
  • Significantly more likely to be in poor or fair health
  • More likely to have limitations in activities of daily living

For more information, contact Danielle Moore, MS RD LD, VP of Nutrition for Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County at 817-336-0912 or email


Resources: The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009- Economic crises- impacts and lessons learned, Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations; Food Research and Action Center,; Hunger in America 2010 Local Report Prepared for The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Inc; Jung Sun Lee and Edward A. Frongillo, Jr. (2001) Nutritional and Health Consequences Are Associated with Food Insecurity among U.S. Elderly Persons. Community and International Nutrition. 131: 1503-1509.; James P. Ziliak, Craig Gundersen, and Margaret Haist. (The Causes, Consequences, and Future of Senior Hunger in America, University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and Iowa State University, Nutrition Education for July 2010 Produced by Meals on Wheels, Inc.,

Posted in Nutritional Education.

Leave a Reply