Report finds child hunger is 55% higher than pre-pandemic levels in NYC

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Report finds child hunger is 55% higher than pre-pandemic levels in NYC

City Harvest’s research comes as food insecurity may worsen for some of the most vulnerable families in the coming summer months.
May 25, 2022

Child hunger remains 55% higher than before the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by New York City’s largest food rescue organization, City Harvest. Titled Feeding New York City’s Children Beyond the Pandemic, the report also found that families of color, immigrant families, and families led by single mothers are at the highest risk of experiencing food insecurity, especially during the summer months. 

COVID-19 and the current economic climate exacerbated child hunger in New York City, according to City Harvest, which warns it could get even worse with the onset of summer, when access to free school meals is limited. "As summer nears, families across New York City are struggling amid surging prices for food, rent, and other necessities – all at a time when free school lunch will be harder to access," said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest.

The City Harvest findings come amidst a time when nearly 62% of New Yorkers reported finding it harder to afford their groceries since the pandemic began, with nearly half, or 46% of New Yorkers saying they were unable to afford nutritious food over the past year, according to a new poll commissioned by No Kid Hungry New York.

“Child hunger is hiding in plain sight across New York City. All around us, families are skipping meals and running out of food in the home before the next paycheck. It’s shocking how many families are hurting and finding it harder just to afford the basics. Officials at every level of government should take a hard look at these numbers, especially the overwhelming majorities of New Yorkers of every background and borough who want government to do more to confront this crisis,” said Rachel Sabella, Director of No Kid Hungry New York.

The poll also found that 36% of respondents said they had to skip a meal. 

With the threat of rising child hunger, City Harvest launched its annual Share Lunch Fight Hunger campaign earlier this month. “The pandemic immediately had a devastating effect on New Yorkers as unemployment surged to record levels and many people found themselves in need of food assistance for the first time, with lines at the more than 400 food pantries and soup kitchens we serve stretching for blocks,” Stephens told NYN Media.

“In response to the pandemic and its economic impact, City Harvest increased our food rescue and delivery operations to levels we've not operated at before,” she added. “In FY 2021, we rescued and distributed 155 million pounds of food -- more than twice the year prior. This year, we will rescue and deliver 100 million pounds of nutritious food to help feed New Yorkers in need. We expect to see this high level of need continue for several years. All told since March 2020, we have rescued and delivered, for free, more than 270 million pounds of food for New Yorkers in need.”

City Harvest plans to raise money to tackle the threat of food insecurity during the summer months, with the goal of feeding over 15,000 children and families. 

“City Harvest was built by neighbors helping neighbors – and that's what we'll continue to do as long as there are New Yorkers who are depending on us for food,” Stephens said. “We are committed to rescuing as much nutritious food as we can and delivering it – free of charge – to hundreds of soup kitchens and food pantries across the city to help New Yorkers put meals on their tables.”

Angelique Molina-Mangaroo
previously founded and was executive director of The Wealthy Youth Project, a financial literacy organization interested in addressing issues faced by women and girls of color. She also was a reporter for the Hunts Point Express in the Bronx, served as a Young Women’s Advisory Council Member on the New York City Council, and has worked with several nonprofit organizations, among them Planned Parenthood of New York City and the Legal Aid Society.