New report details food insecurity in Queens
by Benjamin Fang
Dec 03, 2019 | 532 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new report by the organization Hunger Free America says that nearly eight percent of all Queens residents suffered from food insecurity from 2016 to 2018.

The report, which analyzed federal data, concluded that more than 12 percent of children, 4 percent of working adults and 6 percent of older residents were food insecure.

In total, 189,178 Queens residents experienced food insecurity during that three-year span. That number is actually lower than previous periods.

From 2013 to 2015, 244,863 Queens residents were food insecure. From 2006 to 2008, 268,796 residents struggled with hunger.

“Queens has long been a bedrock middle-class borough,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. “When places like Queens have a significant hunger and poverty problem, that speaks volumes about the extent of this crisis citywide and nationwide.”

The report also concluded that while the number of New York City residents who are food insecure decreased by nearly 27 percent over the last six years, one in eight city residents still can’t afford enough food.

“Because so many New Yorkers earn too little to keep up with soaring costs for housing, health care, child care and other basic costs of living, a million of them struggled against hunger,” Berg said.

“It is only in the last three years that we have seen food insecurity rates return to pre-recession levels,” he added, “which are still sky-high.”

Furthermore, 68 percent of food pantries and soup kitchens in Queens reported serving more people in 2019 than in 2018, according to the group’s annual survey of emergency food programs.

Forty-five percent of those programs reported that they had to turn away people or limit their hours of operation during the last year due to a lack of sources.

Berg released the report and the data last Tuesday morning at Hour Children, which has a food pantry in Long Island CIty.

“Our pantry distributes neartly 10,000 food allotments each year,” said Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, executive director of Hour Children. “Our ‘supermarket style’ system allows our clients to choose for themselves what they and their family need. There is dignity in that choice, and it also probably leads to less waste.”

Fitzgerald added that this time of the year, people are “incredibly generous,” especially with food drives.

“But hunger of course is year round, and donations are what keeps us going,” she said. “We’re grateful for people who remember us and their neighbors in need even when the holidays are over.”

According to Hunger Free America, the states with the highest rates of food insecurity from 2016 to 2018 were New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

In total, the United States has 39,491,401 food-secure individuals, which is 12.3 percent of the entire population. That includes more than 12 million food-insecure children and 5 million food-insecure seniors.

The report concludes that the cost of ending hunger in the United States would be more than $18 billion.
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