New research from Indiana University finds that isolation and program barriers contribute to food insecurity among older adults in rural areas. Data were collected via public convenings and a survey of 5,000 households in lower income census tracts in four rural counties of Indiana. Results showed that seniors living alone felt less motivated to prepare balanced meals and found less enjoyment in eating. Seniors who lived and ate with family members or ate in congregate settings reported higher enjoyment of meals, a diffused (and therefore decreased) burden of food acquisition, and increased motivation to eat better. These results are especially salient, given additional findings that the share of seniors feeling isolated has risen steeply, from 7 percent pre-pandemic to 61 percent at present. Findings also echo many previous studies in noting that SNAP and other nutrition programs that require paperwork or travel present barriers to participation. Researchers suggest that a ride-share network could be a cost-effective way to enhance seniors’ access to food sources and programs, although safe implementation in times of social distancing is complicated. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #rural
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