More than 2/3 of New Yorkers are Concerned Someone They Know Will Need Help Getting Food



Lower Income NYers More Willing to Act
New York, NY - United Way of New York City (UWNYC) today announced the results of a city-wide poll that found 67% of New Yorkers are concerned someone they know will need help getting and paying for food in the coming twelve months. Fully half (50%) of New Yorkers consider hunger a “major problem” facing the city and more than three-quarters (78%) think the federal government has a responsibility to step in even amid a recession.

“Two out of three people in this city believe someone they know will need help getting food in the coming year, a reality that is unfathomable in one of the richest cities in the world,” said United Way of New York City Senior Vice President for Community Investment Jennifer Jones Austin. “The vast majority of New Yorkers think the federal government should take the lead in helping combat hunger, and instead we’re seeing historic cuts to services.”

Other major findings include:
Most New Yorkers think hunger is a problem (84%). More than three in five – would assume that both the number of New Yorkers who go hungry (69%). increased and demand for food assistance at food pantries (63%) has increased in the past year or two. And fully half assume those numbers have increased a lot (49% and 46%, respectively), not just a little; they also believe New York’s food pantries serve more families with children, including working families, than in previous years. Two in five (38%) of New Yorkers say they (16%) or a family member (8%) or both (13%) bought less healthy foods because they were cheaper than buying fresh foods. Thirty-six percent (36%) of New Yorkers say they (15%) or a family member (9%) or both (12%) had difficulty paying for food or groceries. Thirty-three percent (33%) of New Yorkers say they (14%) or a family member (10%) or both (9%) chose between paying for food and rent or some other household expense. One-quarter (24%) say they (10%) or a family member (10%) or both (4%) have had to turn to family members or friends to help pay for food or groceries. One-quarter (23%) say they (9%) or a family member (6%) or both (8%) skipped meals or ate less because they could not afford food for three meals a day. Just over one in ten (13%) say they personally (6%), a family member (5%), or both (2%) received food from a food pantry.

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), also administered by UWNYC, provides support to low-income New Yorkers on an emergency basis to prevent hunger, preserve housing, provide shelter, and support their basic energy needs. This past year, EFSP supported 234 soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters who, in turn, served one million meals and distributed 1.5 million bags of food.

In February 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded United Way of New York City $2 million to promote hunger free communities. With the grant, UWNYC is leading the Hunger Free Communities Consortium, a partnership of NYC’s leading nonprofit and governmental anti-hunger, nutrition, and aging organizations working to significantly reduce hunger and improve nutrition throughout the city.

Jennifer Jones Austin added, “Part of what makes the work of United Way so powerful is that when we see a need, we bring together tremendous resources to help meet it, and that’s what we’re doing in combating the challenge of rising hunger in New York. United Way of New York City is working to improve access to food when New Yorkers need it most, and to ensure that families receive nutritious food, not just empty calories.”

Toplines are available for viewing at:

United Way of New York City commissioned Global Strategy Group to conduct a telephone survey of 700 New York City adults with oversamples of 100 African-American and 100 Latino adults. The survey was conducted between August 2 and 8, 2011 in both English and Spanish.
The base sample was fielded using an RDD methodology. The oversamples were conducted using targeted RDD sample for high density African-American and Latino census tracts. All interviews were conducted on landline telephones. The margin of error on the overall sample is +/-3.7%. The margin of error is larger at the subgroup level.

About United Way of New York City
United Way of New York City fights poverty across the five boroughs. With a focus on education, income and health – the building blocks of a good life – UWNYC designs and invests in evidence-based programs that ensure low-income New Yorkers have both a safety net and a springboard to a better life. UWNYC rigorously evaluates its work and uses lessons learned to advance citywide policies and practices that support New Yorkers in overcoming poverty by improving educational outcomes, strengthening financial stability, and promoting healthier lifestyles.