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Food Bank of CNY Distributes 20 Million Pounds of Food in 10.5 Months to Combat Rising Food Insecurity Rates, Highlighted by Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap Study

Friday, May 17, 2024

SYRACUSE, NY -- Feeding America’s annual study on local food insecurity, Map the Meal Gap, was released last week and the results are both disheartening and unacceptable. This is the only national study to provide county-level and congressional district estimates of food insecurity and food costs, making it a powerful tool to help us better understand hunger in our communities. Map the Meal Gap builds on USDA’s latest report of national and state data, which showed a sharp increase in food insecurity in 2022 amid the historically high cost of food and the expiration of many pandemic-era programs that were helping to nourish our communities. In Food Bank of Central New York’s 11-county service area, food insecurity is estimated at 13% of the total population, or 1 in 8 individuals and 18% of children, or 1 in 6 children under 18 years old. 

The new data show an additional 36,870 individuals in our service area are unable to access the food they need to live a healthy life. These numbers sadden me to think that more and more Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from and it reinforces the essential role of our staff at Food Bank of Central New York and the work being done every day. Today, as we reach 20 million pounds of food distributed since July 1, 2023, it validates what we have known and have been responding to: hunger is pervasive in our community. Food insecurity is affected by unemployment, inflation, the high costs of food and health insurance, the disproportionate costs and lack of availability of both housing and child care, and the other necessary life expenses that push many into making hard choices of where their resources will be allocated during the month. 

Families and individuals are struggling more than ever to make ends meet. Our partnerships with more than 400 community agencies are critical to ensure that those facing food insecurity have access to foods that will nourish them and allow them to thrive during this difficult time.

It's time to come together and look at how we address the root causes of poverty. We need to identify what is required to build stronger communities where everyone has access to the necessities of life so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

This research demonstrates the reality that food insecurity is pervasive and reaching (and sometimes exceeding) the levels seen in 2020 and 2021. This is true for all of New York State and every county and state in the nation. 

It’s important to remember that these figures represent our neighbors – and to know that we all have the power to influence change. We should not (and I refuse to) accept that there are seniors choosing between lifesaving medication and nutritious food and that there are children whose only meals are at school. Congress has the opportunity right now to invest in and strengthen critical anti-hunger programs like SNAP and The Emergency Food Assistance Program in the Farm Bill. We encourage you to join us in urging Congress to work together to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that strengthens and protects the federal nutrition programs that help put food on the table for our neighbors in need. 

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