Our Mission : Hunger

Hunger hurts eastern Massachusetts. One in nine members of our community is at risk of hunger, and that number is growing. Based on agency reporting, The Greater Boston Food Bank has witnessed a 21% increase in requests for food assistance since 2008.

Hunger is not a problem facing just those in poverty. A recent study shows that 47% of those at risk for hunger in eastern Massachusetts earn too much to be eligible for government-provided emergency food assistance. Many never dreamed they would need a food pantry or community meal program to feed themselves and their families.

Why is hunger hurting so many in our community?

The answer has less to do with food – there’s plenty of food available – and more to do with economic and political obstacles. With most food in our country moving from west to east, we are at the end of the distribution pipeline, making food more expensive. Our cold winters mean higher heating bills, and housing costs are higher relative to other areas of the country. Ending hunger means addressing those systemic problems, while doing everything possible, every day, to feed hungry people.

Hunger Study

Every four years, The Greater Boston Food Bank participates in a comprehensive study on hunger and food insecurity in the United States. The most recent study, released in August 2014, illustrates how the need for food assistance has grown nationwide, statewide, and in eastern Massachusetts.

The local report reveals that 420,000 people were served by GBFB in 2012-2013. This means that a little more than 8 percent of the eastern Massachusetts population uses a food pantry, soup kitchen or shelter. Due to underreporting and other statistical factors, GBFB may actually be serving over 500,000 annually.

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Key findings for eastern Massachusetts include:

  • 64% of GBFB member agencies reported an increase in volume of clients served.
  • 91% of GBFB's member agencies said a decrease in food received from GBFB would have a major affect on their ability to serve clients.
  • As many as 420,000 people sought food assistance from GBFB in 2012-2013.
  • About a third of the households receiving food assistance have at least one child younger than 18 years of age.
  • Half of those served belong to the most vulnerable age groups of children and seniors, where proper nutrition is vital.
  • 72% of households need to use a food pantry on a regular basis to have enough to eat.

Many of those interviewed had to make unacceptable choices:

  • 61% had to choose between food and utilities (heat and electricity).
  • 60% had to choose between food and rent/mortgage payments.
  • 60% had to choose between food and medical care.
  • 31% had to choose between food and education.

There is no one face of hunger:

  • 1 in 3 are children under 18 and 1 in 5 are 60 years or older.
  • In 67% of households, the main income earner is not employed. More than 2/3 of those unemployed are elderly, retired, disabled, in poor health or caring for someone in poor health.
  • 57% of households have at least one member with education beyond high school.

Poverty and food insecurity are linked:

  • About half of all households reported monthly incomes of less than $1,000 and 45% earn less than $10,000 annually.
  • 61% live below the federal poverty line (less than $1,526 a month for a family of three).

Where are people hungry in our region?

People are hungry in every community among the 190 cities and towns served by The Greater Boston Food Bank. That's because hunger is as much a problem of working- and middle-class people as it is a challenge faced by those in poverty.

How many children are hungry in our region?

Proper nutrition is essential to a child's physical and mental development and well-being. Unfortunately, more than 125,000 children are at risk of going hungry on any given day in eastern Massachusetts. Thanks to your support, we're doing everything we can to help reduce the number of hungry and malnourished children in our community.

Can hunger ever be solved?

Hunger in America can be solved. It takes leadership and political will. Ending hunger will require that the public and private sectors join in a determined partnership to address the economic, political, and personal barriers that contribute to hunger. You have a role. In addition to making a financial contribution, volunteering and/or donating food, you can let our politicians know that you also want them to be engaged in solving the issue. Click here to find out how to take political action.

What is The Greater Boston Food Bank's service area?

The Greater Boston Food Bank serves 190 communities in eastern Massachusetts. Our reach extends roughly from Lowell and Lawrence in the northeastern part of the state, through the Greater Boston area, down to Cape Cod, Fall River, New Bedford, and the southeastern part of the state, and over to (but not including) the Worcester area. Use our Agency Locator to find an agency in your area.

How can I help?

There are many ways to help. You can donate money. You can donate food. You can volunteer. You can also take political action by writing to your elected officials. We thank you in advance for helping in any way that you can.
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