Hunger is here in Western New York
Within the Food Bank’s service area (Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties)…
- 178,810 people – 13.3% of the overall population – are food insecure.
- 58,430 children – 20.7% of the child population – are food insecure.
What is food insecurity? Simply put, it is not having consistent access to enough nutritious food to lead a healthy life. The reasons for food insecurity are complex, and could include the loss of a job, inadequate wages, injury, illness, lack of access to SNAP (food stamps), and costs associated with unexpected hardships.
Food insecurity and poverty are often related, but do not always go hand-in-hand. For example, there are families who live below 100% of the federal poverty line that are food secure. These families could be prioritizing food over other necessities (medicine, personal hygiene or cleaning products) in order to remain food secure.
Likewise, there are people who live above the poverty line that are food insecure. These people may not be eligible for government assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. For many of these food-insecure individuals, their only form of food assistance may be through charities, like the Food Bank of WNY.
Who is served by the Food Bank of WNY?
In any given month, the Food Bank assists as many as 135,000 individuals, including more than 44,000 families, 55,000 children and infants and nearly 16,500 seniors.
The Faces of hunger in Western New York
Hunger does not belong to any one demographic. Those who are hungry include hard-working families trying desperately to make ends meet. It includes seniors who worked all their lives only to discover that their fixed income has made it necessary for them to choose between heating their home and a hot meal. It includes children who have to arrive at school hungry because their parents cannot afford to feed them breakfast.
Among those assisted by the Food Bank of WNY:
- 85% are high-school graduates, and of those, 31% are college educated
- 39% are employed, 33% are unemployed and actively seeking work
- 28% are not working because they are retired or are disabled and cannot work
- 27% of the adults assisted are currently serving or have served in the military
Challenges faced by our clients:
- 68% had to choose to pay for utilities as opposed to paying for food in the course of a year
- 59% were forced to choose between procuring medicine/medical care or paying for food in the course of a year
- 20% have no health insurance coverage
- 67% of households have at least one family member with diabetes or high blood pressure