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Press Release

Greater Boston Food Bank/Feeding America Survey Focuses on Hunger Food Insecurity in Eastern Massachusetts

August 18, 2014 (Boston, MA) – The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) today released findings from the most comprehensive survey on hunger ever undertaken in Eastern Massachusetts.  The Hunger in America 2014 report (HIA 2014), which was produced in cooperation with Feeding America, the national network of 200 food banks, provides critical information on those seeking assistance from GBFB and its network of 550 member agencies in 190 Massachusetts cities and towns.

Survey results confirm what many hunger relief agencies already knew, that need is real, significant and growing. Within the GBFB service area alone—north to Gloucester, west to Worcester and South to the Cape and the Islands— one in nine adultsand one in three children under the age of 18 don’t know if or when their next meal is coming.

In addition to surveying individuals, the HIA 2014 examined the capacity of food pantries, shelters, elder services providers and other organizations to address hunger and food security.  In the last year, almost 64% of the hunger relief agencies surveyed reported an increase in the volume of clients turning to them for food, while only 4.2% of these community-based agencies saw a decrease in demand.

According to HIA 2014, one in 12 individuals in Eastern Massachusetts accessed food from GBFB and the local agencies it supports. Other findings reveal the economic status and educational background of current clients. Of those surveyed:

  • 52.7% are Caucasian
  • 57% of the households have at least one member with education beyond high school and 15.6% have earned a college degree or pursued an advanced degree
  • One in three of those receiving food are children under the age of 18, and one in five adult clients are 60 years or older.  This means that approximately half of the almost 500,000 individuals who obtain food from GBFB and its member agencies each year are part of a vulnerable age group for which proper nutrition is essential.

In addition:

  • 32.8% of households report that at least one member has been diagnosed with diabetes
  • 61% of the households report at least one member with high blood pressure.
  • 60.3% often choose between purchasing medication and food
  • 85.6% can’t always afford to eat balanced meals, 68.5% cope by purchasing less expensive, unhealthy products in order to feed themselves and their families, and in 58.4% of households, adults cut the size of their meals or even skip meals because there was not enough money for food

According to Catherine D’Amato, GBFB’s President and CEO, despite a rebounding economy, food insecurity continues to pose a serious problem in Eastern Massachusetts and across the country in urban, suburban and rural areas. “Though it is often invisible to friends, family and co-workers, hunger is a problem faced by people of every age, background and experience. The HIA 2014 report helps us better understand the myriad challenges facing those in need and the increased demands on the hunger relief agencies working on the front lines.”

adult clients through both in-person interviews and electronic surveys offered in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese.  For the first time in the report’s 21-year history, data was obtained from US military households and adult students and questions on health and wellness were included in the survey.

The Agency Survey, conducted from October 2012 to January 2013, was designed to help identify and analyze the number of programs administered by GBFB and its member agencies.  The Client Survey was conducted over a four month period beginning in April 2013.

One of the largest food banks in the country, GBFB serves 70% of the Commonwealth.  Since opening its doors in 1981, The Greater Boston Food Bank has distributed more than 500,000,000 pounds of food to children, the elderly, college students, families, working adults, veterans and its network of community-based hunger relief agencies.

The complete report is available at gbfb.org/our-mission/hunger.php.

About The Greater Boston Food Bank

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. GBFB distributes more than 48 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to 550 member hunger-relief agencies and more than 30 direct service programs throughout Eastern Massachusetts in a dedicated partnership to end hunger in our region. This provides meals for as many as 545,000 people a year. GBFB is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. For more information, visit GBFB.org, become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@gr8bosfoodbank), or call 617.427.5200.

About Feeding America

Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States.  Through its network, Feeding America provides food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in communities across America.  Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people it serves; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry.

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