Our Mission : Hunger
Hunger hurts eastern Massachusetts. One in nine members of our community is at risk of hunger. In children, that number is as many as one in four.
Hunger is no longer just a problem facing those in poverty. A recent study shows that 43% 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, it turns out, has less to do with food – there’s plenty of food available – and more to do with economic and political obstacles that prevent food from reaching those who need it. With most food in our country moving from west to east, we are at the end of the primary 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.
Every four years, The Greater Boston Food Bank participates in a comprehensive study on the incidence and nature of hunger and food insecurity in the United States. The most recent study, released in February 2010, illustrates how the economic downturn has increased the need for food assistance nationwide, statewide, and in eastern Massachusetts.
The local report reveals that 394,300 people were served by GBFB in 2009, a 23 percent increase since the last study was conducted in 2005. 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 as many as 545,000 annually.
Key findings for eastern Massachusetts include:
As many as 545,000 people sought food assistance from GBFB in 2009.
About a third of the households receiving food assistance have at least one child younger than 18 years of age.
Many of those interviewed had to make unacceptable choices:
- 44% had to choose between food and heat.
- 34% had to choose between food and rent.
- 37% had to choose between food and medical care.
There is no one face of hunger:
- 73% have a place to live.
- More than a third of the households served have one or more working adults.
- More than two-thirds are registered voters.
Poverty and food insecurity are linked:
- About half of all households reported monthly incomes of less than $800.
- 80% live below the federal poverty line (less than $1,526 a month for a family of three).