Kentucky has the highest rate of food insecurity among adults age 50-59 among all 50 states, according to studies released by Feeding Kentucky, part of the nationwide Feeding America program late last month.

The “Hunger Among Adults Age 50-59 in 2018” report shows for the second year in a row, Kentucky has the highest rate in the nation of food insecurity among older adults. Kentucky’s rate of food insecurity among adults age 50-59 was 17.3% in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.

In Lyon County, Hope Food Bank, a Feeding America partner, helps bridge the gap for struggling seniors. Jennifer Burchett, director of Lyon County Senior Center, said local seniors, on the whole, appear to suffer less food insecurity than those in the other eight counties of the Pennyrile Allied Community Services area.

According to “The State of Senior Hunger in America in 2018,” 6.9% of Kentucky seniors age 60 and older were food insecure in 2018, putting the state in the middle of the pack.

The current national rate of food insecurity among seniors (7.3%) remains substantially above the rate in 2007 (6.3%).

According to the report, more than 5 million seniors across the country aren’t sure where their next meal will come from. If the current rate of senior food insecurity does not change, more than 8 million seniors in the United States could be food insecure by 2050.

Other key findings of the studies, which took place before the coronavirus pandemic, include:

“Even before COVID-19 struck, too many older adults and senior citizens in Kentucky were facing hunger after decades of hard work,” said Feeding Kentucky Executive Director Tamara Sandberg. “It is especially troubling to see so many Kentuckians aged 50-59 who are struggling to put on the table instead of saving for their retirement years, a situation that we know has been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

The studies were conducted by researchers Dr. James P. Ziliak, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, and Dr. Craig Gundersen and is the source for national-, state- and metro-level information about food insecurity among seniors age 60 and older.

The Herald Ledger and Kentucky News Connection contributed to this story.

The Herald Ledger and Kentucky News Connection contributed to this story.