Food Bank’s research and policy analysis allows us to engage in public policy discussions at the city, state and federal levels in order to help make impactful, long-term improvements for New Yorkers in need.
Food Bank For New York City
- Food Bank For New York City’s food distribution program provides approximately 62 million free meals per year for New Yorkers in need.
- Since 1983, Food Bank For New York City has provided more than 1 billion meals to New Yorkers in need.
- Food Bank For New York City’s income support services, including food stamps (also known as SNAP) and free tax assistance, put more than $110 million each year into the pockets of low-income New Yorkers.
- Food Bank For New York City’s nutrition education programs and services empower more than 50,000 children, teens and adults to sustain a healthy diet on a low budget.
- A donation of $1 to Food Bank For New York City helps provide 5 meals.
- Food Bank For New York City distributes more than 4 million kosher meals per year.
Source: Food Bank for New York City, Fiscal Year 2017.
- An estimated 1.4 million New York City residents rely on emergency food programs, including soup kitchens and food pantries, each year.
- Approximately 339,000 New York City children, or approximately one out of every five (19 percent), rely on soup kitchens and food pantries.
- Approximately 604,770 New York City adult women, or approximately one out of every six (17 percent), rely on soup kitchens and food pantries.
- Approximately 204,000 New York City seniors, or approximately one out of every five (20 percent), rely on soup kitchens and food pantries.
- Approximately 70,000 New York City veterans, or approximately three out of every ten (30 percent), rely on soup kitchens and food pantries.
Source: Hunger’s New Normal: Redefining Emergency in Post-Recession New York City. Food Bank For New York City. 2012.
Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
- Nearly 48.1 million United States residents, or 15.4%, are food insecure.
- Over 2.5 million New York State residents, or 12.6%, are food insecure.
- More than 1.3 million New York City residents, or 14.9%, are food insecure.
- New York City residents make up over half (51%) of all food insecure people living in New York State.
- New York City’s food insecurity rate is 11% higher than the national rate, and 18% higher than the New York State rate.
Source: US: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2016. NYS & NYC: Map the Meals Gap (2015). Feeding America. 2017.
The Meal Gap
The Meal Gap represents the meals missing from the homes of those struggling to put food on the table.
- The meal gap for the United States is 7.57 billion; that is, US residents who experience food insecurity fall short of an adequate diet by 7.57 billion meals in a single year.
- The meal gap for New York State is approximately 448 million; that is, New York State residents who experience food insecurity fall short of an adequate diet by 448 million meals in a single year.
- The meal gap for New York City is nearly 225 million; that is, New York City residents who experience food insecurity fall short of an adequate diet by 225 million meals in a single year. New York City’s meal gap makes up over half of New York State’s meal gap.
Source: Map the Meals Gap (2015). Feeding America. 2017.
The publications below contain the latest research, data, and policy points now guiding talks on the city, state and federal levels.
Meeting NYC's Need:
Emergency Food Network Brief 2017
New York City’s Meal Gap
2016 Trends Report
Food Bank Policy Priorities
2016 – 2017
Still Scaling the Hunger Cliff:
Need at NYC Food Pantries & Soup…
Food Bank regularly conducts research to help us address the need for emergency food, income support, and nutrition assistance and education programs citywide. Browse our research reports below.
Meeting NYC’s Need: Bolstering the Emergency Food Network in 2017
February 2017 – At a moment of uncertainty for the resources upon which low-income Americans rely to put food on the table, this needs assessment of food pantries and soup kitchens finds that the network providing services to the most vulnerable New Yorkers is itself quite vulnerable: operating with meager cash resources, few, if any, paid staff, and without access to the basic technology that most workplaces take for granted. Nevertheless, there is widespread agreement among emergency food providers that the most needed resource is more food, and in particular the food that is nutritious but expensive, perishable and difficult to procure through donations: meat, fresh produce and dairy.
Still Scaling the Hunger Cliff: Need at NYC Food Pantries & Soup Kitchens
November 2016 – After nearly three years since the November 2013 cuts to SNAP, survey findings reveal that visitor traffic at food pantries and soup kitchens remains at elevated levels, with the November 2013 SNAP cuts continuing to represent the biggest systemic factor reducing the food purchasing power of low-income people. In addition, food shortages at food pantries and soup kitchens remain far too common, with nearly half reporting running out of food in the course of a single month. Yet this report offers evidence that food pantries and soup kitchens are able to serve vulnerable New Yorkers in meaningfully better ways – with fewer food shortages and fuller pantry bags – when needed resources are in place.
New York City’s Meal Gap: 2016 Trends Report
September 2016 – New York City had a Meal Gap of approximately 242 million in 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available), with 16.4 percent of residents categorized as food insecure. The food insecurity rate among New York City’s children was even higher, with nearly one in four (22.3 percent, or approximately 399,000 children) experiencing food insecurity.Notably, while New York City’s Meal Gap has not changed appreciably in the past year, it has grown by nearly eight percent in the six-year period observed – a time characterized by economic recovery from the Great Recession. A key driver of this phenomenon appears to be the considerable increase in food costs – a more than 16 percent rise over six years.
Abundant in Heart, Short on Resources: Need and Opportunity at NYC Food Pantries
February 2016 – When an unprecedented, across-the-board reduction in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) went into effect on November 1, 2013 – a date now known as the “Hunger Cliff” – food pantries and soup kitchens across the city reported an immediate and widespread increase in visitor traffic. Nearly two years later, in September 2015, 90 percent of food pantries and soup kitchens were still experiencing increased visitor traffic, and approximately half (49 percent) reported having run out of food that month.
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers stand at the precipice of a second Hunger Cliff: on April 1, 2016, non-disabled, childless adults who rely on SNAP will lose those benefits if they have been jobless since the start of the year – regardless of their ability to afford food.
Hunger Cliff NYC: Bridging a City's Monthly 5.3 Million Meal Loss
November 2015 – Nearly two years after the “Hunger Cliff,” an unprecedented across-the-board benefit reduction for Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps), this report offers a snapshot of the longer-term changes in demand at food pantries and soup kitchens in New York City.
The Meal Gap Under the Microscope: NYC Families at the intersection of Food & Financial Insecurity
February 2015 – Research shows that financial capability and food security are linked; even at low incomes, families that are better able to manage household finances are less likely to experience food insecurity.
The Hunger Cliff One Year Later: 56 Million Meals Lost and Need for Emergency Food Remains High
November 2014 – Nearly 1.8 million New York City residents (approximately one in five) rely on the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps). When across-the-board cuts to SNAP benefits went into effect on November 1, 2013, more than a million households in New York City lost, on average, nearly $18 per month in benefits. The food pantries and soup kitchens in Food Bank For New York City’s citywide network reported immediate and widespread increases in visitor traffic that month. Nearly one year later, has this increased need been sustained, or was it a one-time phenomenon?
Research Brief: Visitor Traffic Increases at Emergency Food Providers Post-SNAP Cuts
January 2014 – What changes in visitor traffic did the food pantries and soup kitchens in Food Bank For New York City’s citywide network see after the SNAP cuts went into effect November 1? To answer this question, Food Bank surveyed food pantries and soup kitchens across the five boroughs about demand at their sites in November 2013, compared to immediately preceding months and to November 2012. The findings presented in this research brief provide a snapshot into the new levels of need that have confronted New York City’s emergency food network within the first month of these sweeping cuts to SNAP.
Hunger's New Normal: Redefining Emergency in Post-Recession New York City
October 2013 – Released on the eve of unprecedented cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits, Hunger’s New Normal: Redefining Emergency in Post-Recession New York City is the second report based on the Hunger Safety Net 2011-12 data. Interviews with more than 1,200 participants at food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the five boroughs provide the source material for this detailed look into who relies on emergency food in New York City, and offer evidence that changes in the economy since the Great Recession have increased need even among groups not conventionally considered disadvantaged.
Serving Under Stress, Post-Recession: The State of Food Pantries & Soup Kitchens Today
November 2012 – Serving under Stress Post-Recession: The State of Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens Today is the first report based on NYC Hunger Safety Net 2011-2012 data. It documents in detail the services emergency food programs provide, the resources they utilize, and the operational challenges they face, in light of a continued weak economic recovery from the Great Recession. Differences between food pantries and soup kitchens are highlighted, and borough-by-borough comparisons are made.
Food Bank’s policy papers use data from our research to inform public policy at the city, state and federal levels. These publications are instrumental to our ongoing efforts to raise hunger awareness and to our government relations, which aim to spur action within the legislative and policy communities to decrease food poverty in our city.
Food Bank Policy Priorities
2016 – 2017
NYC on the Edge of a Hunger Cliff
Food Bank For New York City—an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization—meets the Better Business Bureau’s charity standards and is a proud member of Feeding America. See our most informative and commonly requested financial reports and documents below.