Food insecurity affects Nevadans of all ages but older adults face a significant impact when they lack consistent access to enough food. Food insecurity is a condition that is assessed and represented in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports. It is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
To better understand how the current food system works in addressing the need of food insecure older Nevadans, how funding for these programs is distributed, and what the trends and projections are for the population, the Office of Food Secuirty commissioned a gap analysis. To oversee the development of this gap analysis, a Stakeholder Study Group (SSG) was convened. The group included members from food banks, state and local government, nonprofits, and coalitions. The SSG was responsible for approving research questions, identifying key informants, and developing strategies and recommendations.
Research and data from SSG members illustrated a number of barriers to addressing food insecure older Nevadans:
- Federal nutrition benefits are under-utilized by eligible older adults in Nevada.
- Pantries cover the largest percentage of food insecure older Nevadans served through charitable means, which will likely increase disproportionately to the growth of other nutrition services due to program requirements, caseload restrictions, and program costs, yet pantries do not receive any dedicated funds for food purchases or services such as home delivery.
- Meal sponsors are burdened by expenses that far exceed the per meal reimbursement provided by state, local, and federal government funds resulting in waiting lists, reduced days of meal service (or fewer delivered meals) and threatens the very existence of program providers/sponsors.
- Cost per meal reductions won’t fully satisfy the gap between operational cost and reimbursement. Although the state legislature raised per meal reimbursements for sponsors for new meals provided to clients previously on the waiting list, additional increases may be needed and warranted.