A new report says Minnesota has the second-lowest rate of senior hunger in the nation.
The report found that 8.6 percent of Minnesota seniors faced the threat of hunger in 2011, compared to the national average of 15 percent.
Minnesota seniors have several characteristics that reduce the chances they'll be unable to afford enough food, said James Ziliak, economics professor at the University of Kentucky and co-author of the study.
"On average, seniors in Minnesota tend to have higher incomes. They're more likely to be married. They're more likely to be white. They're more likely to have higher education," Ziliak said. "These factors all add up to reducing the risk of food insecurity among older Americans in the state of Minnesota."
Only Virginia had a lower rate of senior hunger than Minnesota. Seniors living in the south and southwest parts of the country were most likely to have trouble affording enough food.
But the number of Minnesota seniors who struggle with hunger is still worrisome, Ziliak said.
"While Minnesota can be pleased that it's much better than the average state in the nation, I don't think it's a real cause for celebration, given that the actual rate itself is still pretty sizable."
Those seniors who face the threat of hunger are more likely to experience health problems including diabetes and heart attacks, Ziliak said.
The report was funded by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger.