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Contributors to Food Poverty


Identifying and understanding the underlying causes of hunger is essential to fighting food poverty.  Food Bank conducts research into the population of New Yorkers in need and the city's hunger safety net — which includes a wide range of nonprofit and government assistance programs. Our research shows that the ability of New Yorkers to afford and access food is affected by issues including, but not limited to, low wages, high cost of living, barriers to accessing assistance programs, high costs of health care and a lack of affordable, nutritious food in the city's low-income neighborhoods.

Browse a selection of research findings on a series of contributors to food poverty:

Poverty Food Bank crown_small black Low Wages & Household Income Food Bank crown_small black Living Expenses

Government & Nutrition Assistance Programs Food Bank crown_small black Health & Health Insurance


Poverty

  • More than 1.5 million NYC residents (19 percent) live below the federal poverty level (approximately $18,000 per year for family of three). (US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2009)
  • More than 3 million NYC residents (38 percent) live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $37,000 per year for a family of three). (US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2009)
  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) of NYC residents accessing soup kitchens and food pantries have annual household incomes below the federal poverty level and almost all (96 percent) have incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)


Low Wages & Household Income

  • A majority (92 percent) of NYC households accessing soup kitchens and food pantries have annual incomes below $25,000, 59 percent have incomes below $10,000 per year and 29 percent have incomes below $5,000 per year. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
  • The average income for NYC households with employed members accessing soup kitchens and food pantries is $1,507 per month. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
  • Despite their jobs, more than 1 in 4 working NYC households (27 percent) experienced difficulty affording needed food over the past year. (NYC Hunger Experience 2012)
  • A NYC resident working full–time year–round at the current minimum wage would earn approximately $15,000 (pre–tax) annually, below the federal poverty level for a family of three (approximately $18,000 per year).


Living Expenses

  • From 2003 to 2010, the cost of food in the New York metropolitan area increased by 25 percent. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index)
  • Among NYC residents with annual household incomes between $25,000 and $49,999, 43 percent experienced difficulty affording food, doubling the percentage in 2003 (21 percent). (NYC Hunger Experience 2012)
  • More than three–quarters (79 percent) of NYC residents accessing soup kitchens and food pantries rent and pay an average of $570 per month, 59 percent of their average monthly household income ($970). (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)

Government & Nutrition Assistance Programs

  • Approximately one half (46 percent) of NYC households turning to soup kitchens and food pantries receive food stamps. Among households accessing emergency food who are not enrolled in the food stamp program, more than three quarters (76 percent) are income–eligible for the program. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
  • On average, NYC households accessing emergency food and enrolled in the food stamp program receive $147 in food stamps per month ($37 per week). Among them, approximately one quarter (24 percent) run out of food stamp benefits in one week or less, 60 percent in two weeks and 84 percent run out in three weeks. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
  • Approximately one–half (54 percent) of NYC households with young children (under five) accessing soup kitchens and food pantries are enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
  • More than three–quarters (79 percent) of NYC households with school-age children accessing emergency food participate in the National School Lunch Program, while only 59 percent and 39 percent participate in the School Breakfast and Summer Food Service Programs respectively. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)

Health & Health Insurance

  • More than one out of every five (21 percent) NYC residents visiting soup kitchens and food pantries do not have health insurance. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
  • Approximately one of every four (24 percent) employed NYC residents accessing soup kitchens and food pantries does not have health insurance. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
  • Among NYC residents receiving food from soup kitchens and food pantries, 21 percent have been diagnosed with asthma, 20 percent with diabetes and 10 percent with heart disease. (NYC Hunger Safety Net 2007)
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