Hunger is here in Western New York.
Within the Food Bank’s service area (Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties)…
- 1 in 8 people is at risk of hunger or food insecure
- 1 in 5 children is 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 139,780 individuals, including more than 45,340 households, 54,445 children and infants and 18,370 seniors.
Hunger doesn’t discriminate. Many of our community members are just one job loss, medical emergency or unexpected crisis away from needing food assistance.
Hunger touches nearly every zip code in our service area, including suburbs and rural areas. People who live in rural areas – the very places where food is grown to feed others – are often more at risk of hunger due to limited job opportunities, public transport and child care services. The nearest grocery store or pantry is often miles away.
The face of hunger may surprise you. 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.