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1 in 4 Children in New York City is at Risk of Hunger, New Study Shows

CONTACT: Shruti Sehgal,, 646-200-5283
Carol Schneider,, 212-566-7855 ext: 2231

1 in 4 Children in New York City is at Risk of Hunger, New Study Shows

Numbers Reveal Urgent Need for Universal Free School Lunch, As Proposed Today in the New York City Council Budget

April 23, 2014 – New York, NY: New analysis from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2014 shows that nearly half a million children in New York City – that is, one in four – do not always know where their next meal is coming from. In light of these numbers, Food Bank For New York City called for enactment of the New York City Council’s proposal that free school lunch be provided to all children in the City’s public schools, noting that it would help end the stigma surrounding free school lunch, ensure that more children are learning on a full stomach and close the growing meal gap that exists for struggling families.

The Feeding America study further found that this “meal gap” – the number of meals that food-insecure households miss over the period of a year – grew from 235 million to 250 million in New York City between 2011 and 2012. Households with children disproportionately experience food insecurity. The City Council’s proposed budget for 2015, released today, asks for $24 million to provide universal free school lunch to the City’s 1.1 million public school students.

“Big problems require bold action,” said Triada Stampas, Senior Director of Government Relations at Food Bank For New York City.  “The City Council’s proposal for universal free school lunch takes aim right at the heart of child hunger, which affects far too many families in our city and keeps our children from meeting their full potential.”

Map the Meal Gap 2014 is the most recent of a series of reports by Feeding America that provide detailed analysis of food insecurity. The study shows that children make up nearly one-third of all food insecure New York City residents – approximately 420,000 of the 1.4 million New Yorkers at risk of hunger. New York City has the second highest number of people struggling with food insecurity in the country.

These findings identify an alarming level of need that existed even before November’s $5 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cut in 2013.

Key New York City highlights from Map the Meal Gap include:

  • New York City’s overall “Meal Gap” is 250,236,400 – an increase of more than 15 million meals from the previous year. By borough: Brooklyn (88,494,600), Queens (54,787,900), Bronx (53,022,500), New York (45,355,000) and Staten Island (8,567,400).
  • The Bronx has the highest level of child food insecurity, and Brooklyn has the largest number of food insecure children. Counties in New York City with the highest levels and numbers of food insecure children: Bronx (29.6%, 109,360 children), Kings (24.2%, 144,640 children), New York (22%, 52,470 children), Queens (20.3%, 93,910 children) and Richmond (18.5%, 20,090 children).
  • Of the 420,000 food-insecure children throughout the city, 32% are not likely to come from households that are income-eligible for federal nutrition assistance. The fact that food insecurity exists at income levels higher than the thresholds set by federal nutrition assistance programs is largely attributable to the higher than average costs of living that New York City residents face. 
  • The average cost of a meal in New York City is $3.15, higher than the national average of $2.74, making it more difficult for struggling New Yorkers to achieve food security. Average household SNAP benefits provide approximately half this amount.

The data is provided in an interactive map that allows viewers to find out how widespread hunger is in their county and state. A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at Food Bank For New York City is a member of Feeding America’s nationwide network of more than 200 food banks.
About Food Bank For New York City
Food Bank For New York City recognizes 31 years as the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs.  As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts — food distribution, income support and nutrition education — all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of community-based member programs citywide, Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. Food Bank’s hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. Learn how you can help at

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