These are some of the key terms that are critical for you to know about senior hunger and to use this toolkit.

Older Adults/Seniors (1): Older Americans Act (OAA) programs provide services primarily to individuals aged 60 years and older, as well as individuals with disabilities, care partners and others. The services offered by the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services flow primarily from OAA funding and thus the term “senior” used here refers to those aged 60 years and older.

Hunger (2): An individual-level physiological condition of discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation. It is often referred to as a potential consequence of food insecurity due to prolonged, involuntary lack of food.

Food insecurity (3): A person or household is considered food insecure when 1) facing the threat of hunger, 2) lacking safe and adequate food to sustain health and quality of life and 3) unsure of access or the capability to obtain suitable foods in socially acceptable ways.

Malnutrition (4): A deficiency, excess, or imbalance of energy and/or nutrient intake. Malnutrition can occur within all body sizes and core factors leading to malnutrition include excessive intakes, insufficient food consumption and inadequate utilization of nutrients provided by foods ingested.

Undernutrition (5): A form of malnutrition that manifests as stunting, underweight, wasting and includes nutrient deficiency (essential vitamins and minerals).

Obesity (6): Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater. Obesity may be associated with excessive energy and nutrient intakes which may also be accompanied by micronutrient deficiencies or suboptimal intakes.

Food desert (7): Areas in which residents have low levels of access to retail outlets selling affordable, nutrient-dense foods. Supermarkets and large grocery stores are defined as food stores with at least $2 million in annual sales and containing all the major food departments; these are used as sources of healthy and affordable food.

Food waste (8): According to the EPA, the term “wasted food” describes food that was not used for its intended purpose. Examples include unsold food from retail stores; plate waste, uneaten prepared food, or kitchen trimmings from restaurants, cafeterias and households; or by-products from food and beverage processing facilities. The EPA uses the overarching term “wasted food” instead of “food waste” because it conveys that a valuable resource is being wasted, whereas “food waste” implies that the food no longer has value and needs to be managed as waste.



  1., ODIS, MAN5300, CHP 92
  3. Anderson, S. A. (1990). Core indicators of nutritional state for difficult-to-sample populations. The Journal of Nutrition, 120(Suppl 11), 1559-600. Retrieved from 
  4. Encyclopedia of Food and Health, 2016.; World Health Organization. (2021, June 9). Fact sheets - Malnutrition. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from
  5. Encyclopedia of Food and Health, 2016