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Two Million New Yorkers Are at Risk of Going Hungry and a New Report Say That Most in Need Are Not Where You Would Expect

New York, NY (September 7, 2004) — A new report from the Food Bank For New York City has found that at least two million New Yorkers across the five boroughs are at risk of going hungry. Currently, the city's food pantries and soup kitchens are providing food to half of them, but nearly a third are receiving no assistance at all and they're not necessarily in the boroughs you would expect.

"Staten Island is not a borough that people traditionally associate with hunger or poverty, yet it has the highest percentage of residents at-risk of going hungry but not accessing private or public food programs that are there to help," said Dr. Lucy Cabrera, president and chief executive officer of the Food Bank For New York City. "On the flip side, the report found that the Bronx — an area that has a sizeable number of emergency food programs — has the second highest number of people at risk."

The study, which looked at whether or not New Yorkers at risk of going hungry accessed emergency food programs, food stamps and/or WIC, found that Queens and Brooklyn came in third and fourth, respectively, and that Manhattan had the lowest percentage of at-risk individuals not seeking food assistance.

"This report indicates that emergency food providers across the city are in need of more resources and funding. On average, these programs spend almost 60 percent of their budgets on food and almost all rely heavily on volunteers to operate. In fact, 83 percent of all staff are unpaid volunteers. Additional funding would enable programs to be open more days and for longer hours, meaning they could serve more people and close the gap that currently exists," said Dr. Cabrera.

On the food program user level, the report verified a trend that the hunger-relief community has been seeing over the past few years: that those accessing emergency food programs are largely older adults, the disabled, women with children and the working poor. These clients also have alarmingly low participation rates in government food assistance programs. Less than a third of all clients participate in the Food Stamps Program. WIC participation amongst single women with children is thirty-two percent.

"Today, we are calling on members of the hunger-relief community to join the Food Bank in taking this information and partnering with elected officials, community leaders and New Yorkers at risk of going hungry to develop Borough Hunger Task Forces. These groups are critical to identifying successful models and developing strategic plans to end hunger at the local level," said Dr. Cabrera.

Dr. Cabrera released the findings of the report, Hunger Safety Net 2004: Measuring Gaps in Food Assistance in NYC, 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. Data analysis was conducted in conjunction with the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University. Based on client findings and 2000 US Census data, the Food Bank was able to determine that at least two million New Yorkers are living in poverty and are at risk of hunger.

Food Bank For New York City, the city's primary supplier of food for the hungry, helps provide the food for over 240,000 free meals served each day by more than 1,100 nonprofit community food programs in the five boroughs. Last year, the Food Bank distributed over 67 million pounds of food. Learn more about Hunger Safety Net 2004: Measuring Gaps in Food Assistance in NYC.

Anna Shenk
(212) 566-7855

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