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Reflections of Hunger: New Data from Food Bank For New York City

November 19, 2018
Contact: Claire Holmes
(845) 282-0774 /


Perfect storm of consistent threats to SNAP and rising costs of food leads to longer lines with more first-time visitors, senior citizens and families with children

NEW YORK—Food Bank For New York City (Food Bank) today released an analysis of the state of hunger in NYC based on feedback directly from the soup kitchens and food pantries fighting food insecurity on the front lines.

The snapshot, released at Food Bank’s annual legislative breakfast, showed there is greater demand concentrated on food pantries and soup kitchens in NYC. Emergency food providers reported seeing longer lines with more first-time visitors, senior citizens, and families with children.

This snapshot describes what we’re seeing right now on the front lines and comes directly from the men and women most intimately involved in ending hunger across the five boroughs,” said Food Bank For New York City President and CEO Margarette Purvis. “Our survey’s findings make it clear that in the 35th year of the city’s emergency food network, the perceived profile of reach and capacity of the neighborhood soup kitchens has completely changed. The majority of soup kitchens and pantries are forced to punch above their weight class, serving in most cases at least two boroughs outside of their own. It is the greatest indicator of growing need in our city and a requirement for families to try harder to make ends meet.”


  • Nearly 80% of food pantries and soup kitchens across NYC have seen elevated traffic over the last five years, since funding for SNAP was cut.
  • More than half (54%) of soup kitchens and pantries reported running out of food and 29% reported turning people away because of lack of food.
  • Of those, nearly 40% of food pantries and soup kitchens reported the number of visitors increased by more than half.
  • Meanwhile the average cost of a meal is increasing – up 27% across all borough and 46% in Manhattan alone.
  • The network has seen a 63% increase in the number of seniors and a 62% increase in the number of families with children.
  • Nearly half of all soup kitchens and food pantries have an operating budget of under $25,000 a year and more than half operate with non-paid staff.

Food Bank surveyed 735 leaders from soup kitchens and food pantries from across the city between October 6 and October 29, 2018. Food Bank calculates the meal gap based on the most recent publicly available data on food insecurity from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Food Bank supplies food for more than 62.5 million meals every year, but also connects eligible New Yorkers to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.


About Food Bank For New York City

For 35 years, Food Bank For New York City has been the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end hunger throughout the five boroughs. Nearly one in five New Yorkers relies on Food Bank for food and other resources. Food Bank takes a strategic, multifaceted approach that provides meals and builds capacity in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among all New Yorkers. Through its network of more than 1,000 charities and schools citywide, Food Bank provides food for more than 61 million free meals per year for 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 for the working poor, put more than $110 million each year into the pockets of New Yorkers, helping them to afford food and achieve greater dignity and independence.  Food Bank’s nutrition education programs and services empower more than 50,000 children, teens and adults to sustain a healthy diet and active lifestyle on a limited budget.  Working toward long-term solutions to food poverty, Food Bank develops policy and conducts research to inform community and government efforts.

To learn more about how you can help, please visit  Follow us on Facebook (FoodBank4NYC), Twitter  (@FoodBank4NYC)

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