Solutions Blog

Senior food shelf visits continue to rise

Every now and then, we check in with the food shelf data reported by the food shelves and food banks. This year, we did a full mid-year data update to help figure out what is changing and what trends are emerging in the fight against hunger.  It also helps us get ready to crunch the full 2016 numbers early next year so we’re ready to respond to data requests from legislators and the public.

Here’s where we’re at for the first six months of 2016 (compared to 5 years ago in 2012):

 Visits by 2012 2016
Children 580,987 571,036
Adults 799,881 880,382
Seniors 107,968 161,016
Total 1,488,836 1,612,434

As you can see, we’re on-pace to hit the 3 million visits mark again in 2016. That would be the 6th year in a row we’ve been at this high level.

In crunching the data a few things stand out to us:

  • The rise in senior visits stands out as the biggest increase. We see that compared to the first 6 months of 2012, seniors made 49% more visits to food shelves in 2016. Compared to the same time frame last year, senior visits are also up by about 25,000 visits. This tells us that food shelves around the state are doing a good job of reaching out to seniors and helping serve their needs.
  • Adult visits are also up, although modestly. There is a 10% increase in the number of visits between the first six months of 2012 and 2016.
  • Child visits appear to be down a tiny bit statewide. A 1.7% decrease doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near ending childhood hunger, but a small change indicates that the number of children using food shelves are pretty steady year-to-year. At the very least, the good news is the number of kids using food shelves isn’t rising.

We’ve put together a new map comparing senior food shelf visits in the first six months of 2012 to 2016 by county. Take a minute and explore the data. Are food shelf visits up or down in your county? What patterns do you see in the data?


Questions or comments on the data? See something interesting that we missed? Email Jill Westfall ( and let us know.  And watch for an updated map with the full year’s data early in 2017!

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