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New Poll Released Thanksgiving Reveals Hunger Impacts Half of New York City Households with Children

New York, NY (November 2004) — While New York City's economy has shown steady improvement over the past year, New Yorkers' vulnerability to hunger remains high. A poll, conducted by the Food Bank For New York City and released just prior to Thanksgiving, reveals that nearly half of all households with children would not be able to afford food for their families within three months of losing their job or household income. Despite the obvious need for assistance by at-risk New Yorkers, only 38 percent of city residents are aware of programs that provide free food in their own community.

To assist New Yorkers in need this Thanksgiving, the Food Bank will distribute 10,600 free turkeys to community food programs throughout the five boroughs, including food pantries and soup kitchens, as part of our Thanksgiving for Five campaign. This distribution will provide approximately 160,000 meals to low-income New Yorkers on Thanksgiving Day. To learn more about Food Bank programs and services throughout the five boroughs, New Yorkers in need can call our 24-hour, toll-free 866-NYC-FOOD number.

The problem of hunger continues to be borough-wide, according to new poll results. The highest percentage of those at-risk for hunger are located in the Bronx and Brooklyn, which are areas with the highest poverty rates. Specific findings by borough include:

  • Brooklyn: 31 percent of residents found it very or somewhat difficult to afford food in 2004 (vs. 24 percent in 2003).
  • Queens: 32 percent of residents found it very or somewhat difficult to afford food in the past year (vs. 23 percent in 2003). Further, 13 percent of Queens's residents reported they were unable to afford food in 2004 (vs. eight percent in 2003).
  • Bronx: 19 percent of residents report they were unable to afford food needed by themselves or their families at some point during the past year (vs. 13 percent in 2003). Further, 27 percent of Bronx residents indicate they would be unable to afford food for themselves or their families immediately after the loss of their household income (vs. 20 percent in 2003).
  • Staten Island: 13 percent of residents found it very difficult to afford food in the past year (vs. zero in 2003). Similarly, 13 percent of residents report being unable to afford food at some point during the past year (vs. four percent in 2003).
  • Manhattan: 60 percent of residents report that they believe the number of people who cannot afford food in New York City has increased, with 21 percent reporting that they had a very to somewhat difficult time affording food over the past year. These numbers nearly mirror 2003 figures, despite the city's economic gains.

"These findings support what we're seeing at our community food assistance programs throughout the five boroughs," reports Dr. Lucy Cabrera, Food Bank President and CEO. "Many of the people turning to our programs are families with children and the working poor. Our Thanksgiving for Five campaign enables them to participate in this important tradition. However, the service that we provide is a stopgap measure. We still need to work with our elected officials and community leaders on permanent solutions to hunger. In most cases that means getting to the root causes of hunger, including poverty."

he poll findings also delved into demographics, education, and income. Those findings are detailed below:

  • The Latino community saw the sharpest rise in those at-risk for hunger. In 2004, one in four Latinos in New York City (25 percent) would not be able to afford food immediately after losing their household income; an increase from 20 percent in 2003.
  • In 2004, 21 percent of African Americans and 11 percent of Whites would not be able to afford food immediately after losing their household income; relatively the same as 2003.
  • The gender gap is stark. In 2003 and 2004, eight percent of men were unable to afford food. Contrast that with 18 percent of women in 2004, up from 11 percent in 2003.
  • The value of the dollar has declined. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of New York City households earning less than $25,000 experienced a time over the last year when they could not afford food, versus 22 percent in 2003.
  • Education may be measured in dollars and cents. Nearly 20 percent of residents without a college degree were unable to afford food in 2004, an increase from 11 percent in 2003.
  • More than four in five New York City residents believe hunger is a problem (82 percent) with approximately half viewing hunger to be a major problem. This perception is reinforced by recent evidence that more than two million New York City residents are at-risk of hunger.[1]

Food Bank For New York City commissioned the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion to conduct a consumer poll via telephone from July 8–13, 2004 among New York City residents throughout the five boroughs. The margin of error for the findings is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Food Bank For New York City, the city's largest supplier of food for the hungry, provides the food for more than 240,000 free meals served each day by more than 1,100 nonprofit community food programs in the five boroughs. The Food Bank distributes more than 67 million pounds of food a year and is recognized as Member of the Year by America's Second Harvest, The Nation's Food Bank Network. For information about the Food Bank, visit

[1] Food Bank For New York City (2004) NYC Hunger Safety Net 2004: Measuring Gaps in Food Assistance in New York City


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