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89 Percent of New Yorkers Rate Hunger Top Priority This Election Year


New York, NY (September 6, 2005) A new study from the Food Bank For New York City — NYC Hunger View September 2005 — reveals that a vast majority of New Yorkers believe that city government should address the hunger crisis that is worsening across the five boroughs. Further, the report demonstrates a heightened sense of public awareness about the problem of hunger among the elderly, irrespective of demographic differences. The findings are being released today along with Hunger: An Aging Issue, a comprehensive policy paper about elderly hunger, at the Food Bank's 14th Annual Agency Conference, an event that brings together more than 600 members of the city's hunger-relief community to discuss solutions for ending hunger.

Eighty-nine percent of city residents — regardless of gender, age, race/ethnicity, household income and education level — think it is important for city government to reduce hunger this upcoming year. More than four out of five New Yorkers (82 percent) believe that hunger is a problem among the elderly. In fact, close to 24 percent of elderly New Yorkers turn to soup kitchens and food pantries to make ends meet. In a city of 7.9 million residents, where elderly individuals comprise just 12 percent of the total population, this is a particularly worrisome finding. It means that one in four elderly New Yorkers are at risk of hunger and turning to emergency food programs.

  • Of particular note is the fact that people at opposite ends of the financial, education and age spectrums are looking to legislative leaders for a solution to this burgeoning hunger crisis.
  • A total of 86 percent of households with incomes of $75,000 or more and 86 percent of residents with graduate degrees think it is important that city government reduce hunger in New York City this upcoming year.
  • Surprisingly, three-quarters of younger New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 35 have a strong awareness of elderly hunger.
  • Eighty-seven percent of women and three-quarters (74 percent) of men think hunger is a problem among the elderly.

"We often refer to hunger as a hidden issue because people don't realize that everyday New Yorkers, like the person next to them on the subway or living across the hall, may indeed be turning to a soup kitchen or food pantry," said Dr. Lucy Cabrera, President and CEO of the Food Bank For New York City. "This report shows that an enormous number of New Yorkers not only know about the issue, they care about reducing the number of people who must rely on these programs for help."

While approximately 80 percent of residents in each borough thinks hunger is a problem, there were a few variations worth noting. The Bronx had the highest percentage (53 percent) of residents that think hunger is a major problem among the elderly, followed by 43 percent in Staten Island, 40 percent in Brooklyn and more than one-third (37 percent) in Manhattan and Queens.

In 2004, the Food Bank For New York City published a report, Hunger Safety Net 2004: Measuring Gaps in Food Assistance in New York City, revealing that more than two million New Yorkers are at risk of hunger and that 25 percent of people accessing community food programs are 65 or older. These findings prompted the Food Bank For New York City to take a closer look at public views on elderly hunger and at the same time produce Hunger: An Aging Issue a comprehensive analysis of the hunger issue that affects more than 250,000 elderly New Yorkers. The poll was conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

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