Data and Research

Taking a closer look at food insecurity and hunger in our region.

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) conducts research and analyzes data on our operations, our network of hunger-relief partners, and our community in an effort to improve the effectiveness of how we fight food insecurity and improve public health in the Commonwealth. Our findings are used to guide GBFB’s strategy and to inform policy and advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels.

Closing the Meal Gap in Eastern Massachusetts

The map below features GBFB’s town-by-town progress toward our goal of distributing enough food to provide three meals per day for each food-insecure individual in Eastern Massachusetts.

Closing the Meal Gap in E. Mass.
Massachusetts Annual Statewide Survey on Food Insecurity, Equity & Access

In 2021 and 2022, a statewide survey, generously funded by the Hunger to Health Collaboratory (H2HC) and Stop & Shop, was undertaken to: Thumbnail of Food Access report cover

1. Identify the prevalence of food insecurity
2. Identify gaps and disparities in food assistance use
3. Develop data-driven recommendations to ensure that all have adequate food

WATCH: The 2022 presentation on our “Opportunities to Improve Food Equity & Access in Massachusetts” report.

2022 Opportunities for Food Equity & Access in Massachusetts Report

2021 Gaps in Food Access Report
2021 Gaps in Food Access Report Appendix (Frequency Tables)

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Food Pantry Use and Barriers in Massachusetts during the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

We surveyed 2928 adults in Massachusetts regarding food access in the year before and during the first year of the pandemic. This study describes racial disparities in food insecurity, food pantry use, and barriers to and experiences with food pantries during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

An Overburdened Charitable Food System: Making the Case for Increased Government Support During the COVID-19 Crisis

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people accessing our partner food pantry network doubled and our food distribution increased by 55%. Because of this increased need, GBFB is advocating for increased state and federal support for those facing food insecurity. Read more in our American Journal of Public Health editorial.

Health Center Program to Support Food Security Through Nutrition Coaching and Produce Markets (HC PRODUCE) Study

Since 2018, we have partnered with Cambridge Health Alliance to host a monthly produce distribution at the Cambridge Health Alliance Revere Care Center. Research is ongoing for quality improvement purposes and to evaluate the effectiveness of the program on improving diet. This work is funded in part by a SIREN grant and a Massachusetts Attorney General Office’s Social Determinants Partnership Grant.

As part of this collaboration, we have published:

Health-Related Costs of Hunger

The Hunger to Health Collaboratory (H2HC) and Stop & Shop supported the first study of the health-related costs of hunger and food insecurity in Massachusetts. Conducted by Children’s HealthWatch, and released in 2018, the in-depth analysis reports hunger and food insecurity in our state increased health-related expenditures by an estimated $2.4 billion at least, in 2016 alone. For more on the intersection of food insecurity and health, see Food As Medicine: Rethinking Hunger Relief As Health Care (WBUR, 2017). 

Health and Research Council

The purpose of the Health and Research Council is to advise GBFB’s community-based research, programming, and policy work. GBFB relies on members of this Council to provide guidance on new developments and ideas in their relevant fields of expertise such as public health, public policy, and healthcare administration. Click here to learn about the members of GBFB’s Health and Research Council.

Additional Data & Research Resources


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