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Nearly One in Five of NYC's Emergency Food Programs Are More Likely to Turn People Away Since September 11

New York, NY, September 3, 2002 — With hundreds of thousands of mostly low-income workers without jobs and homelessness rising to levels not seen for over 20 years, the city's emergency food programs — including soup kitchens and food pantries — are struggling to meet a seemingly unquenchable demand for emergency food. Results from Changes in Demand for Food Assistance at New York City Emergency Food Programs After September 11, 2001, being released today by the Food Bank For New York City, Food For Survival, reveal that:

  • Over 80 percent of the city's soup kitchens and food pantries are experiencing a steady rise in demand for food assistance that surpasses levels seen immediately after 9/11.
  • One in five food pantries and one in six soup kitchens are more likely turning away people seeking food assistance since the events of 9/11. Lack of food is the leading reason to turn people away.
  • Homelessness is a top contributor for rise in demand among Manhattan , Brooklyn and Queens soup kitchens.
  • Food pantries report unemployment and inadequate wages as key factors causing more people to turn to emergency food assistance.
  • In the months following September 11, the city's emergency food programs have extended hours and days of operation, and altered the amount of food distribution in order to feed more people more often. 
  • Food is the #1 need among the city's soup kitchens and food pantries.

To meet the rise in demand for food assistance, the Food Bank For New York City has distributed over 61 million pounds of food to over 1,000 nonprofit community food programs throughout the city, including over 5 million pounds of fresh produce. This total represents a record 20 percent rise from the year prior. Meanwhile food donations have dropped off 25 percent since the beginning of the year.

"We have, at the very least, one in five people in New York City turning to emergency food programs just to get by. Over half of them are children and the elderly," says Lucy Cabrera, Ph.D., president and CEO at the Food Bank For New York City. "With the city's food assistance programs at capacity long before September 11, we don't see an end in sight to the ever-growing levels of hunger. What we need now is for everyone to pull together resources and lend a hand, including helping at local food assistance programs, holding food drives, and making donations."

Food Bank For New York City, Food For Survival, was founded in 1983 to coordinate the procurement and distribution of food donations from manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and government agencies to organizations providing free food to the hungry. A member of America's Second Harvest, the Food Bank is now the largest food bank and one of the largest distributors of free fresh produce in the country. The Food Bank provides the food for over 200,000 meals served each day by more than 1,000 nonprofit community food programs — including soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, low-income day care centers, Kids Cafes, and senior, youth and rehabilitation centers — throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

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