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.
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 as many as 545,000 annually.
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).