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69 Percent of NYC Residents Would Not Be Able to Affod Food for Themselves and Their Families Within One Year of Losing Their Job, According to New Poll

New York, NY (September 2, 2003) A new poll conducted by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion for the Food Bank For New York City reveals that 69 percent of city residents would not be able to afford food for themselves and their families, after paying monthly bills and expenses, within one year of losing their job or household income. Of those, a surprising 40 percent could not afford food within three months. Yet despite the reality that hunger can happen to anyone in today's economy, an unbelievable 62 percent of city residents are unaware of programs that provide free food in their own community.

At a time when more and more families are in need of food assistance, it is critical that the Food Bank raise awareness of the 1,100 community food programs throughout the five boroughs that can help people in need. That is why the Food Bank is launching 866-NYC-FOOD, a toll-free, 24-hour number that will help connect those who are in need and those who want to help with community food programs in their neighborhoods, said Dr. Lucy Cabrera, president and chief executive officer of the Food Bank For New York City.

Dr. Cabrera released the poll findings at the Food Bank's Annual Agency Conference, an event that brings together more than 500 members of the city's hunger-relief community to discuss solutions for ending hunger. Dr. Cabrera also announced that the Food Bank has increased its distribution to community food programs by 42 percent in the past four years.

It is staggering that so many New Yorkers are just a few paychecks away from being able to provide food for themselves and their families, added Dr. Cabrera. It is an honor for me to be here today with the people who are on the frontlines, meeting the growing needs of our city every single day.

Additional findings include:

  • 64 percent of residents say that the number of people who cannot afford to feed themselves or their families in New York City has increased over the past three years. This response rises to 71 percent amongst Staten Island and Bronx residents that have been especially hard hit by unemployment. The finding also mirrors the city's economic decline and the Food Bank's 42 percent increase in food distribution over the past four years.
  • A shocking 40 percent of residents say that hunger is a major problem in New York City. That number rises to 54 percent amongst Bronx residents and 43 percent amongst Brooklyn residents. Coincidentally, these two boroughs are the areas in greatest need of free food according to current Food Bank distribution statistics.
  • 31 percent of residents know someone who did not have enough to eat and went to a food pantry, community food program, or soup kitchen in the past year. In the Bronx, almost half of the respondents reported knowing someone (46 percent). More than half of all Latino households across the five boroughs reported knowing someone (56 percent).
  • 25 percent of residents say they found it somewhat difficult or very difficult to afford to buy the food that was needed by them and their family in the past year. That figure rose to 32 percent amongst households with children.
  • 25 percent of residents say that there was a time during the past year when they either did not purchase food or found it difficult to buy food that was needed by themselves or a member of their family. That figure rose to 32 percent amongst households with children. These figures are not surprising when you consider that the Food Bank's 2001 NYC Hunger Study found that 1.5 million New York City residents, about 20 percent of the population, are turning to emergency food programs to avoid going hungry.

Marist conducted the poll via telephone interviews on August 13–14, and 18–22, 2003 among New York City residents throughout the five boroughs. The margin of error for the findings is ±3.5%.

Food Bank For New York City, the nation's largest food bank and the city's largest supplier of food for the hungry, provides the food for over 200,000 free meals served each day by 1,100 nonprofit community food programs in the five boroughs. For more information and a copy of the Food Bank's poll, click here. For information about Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, visit

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