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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

DiNapoli: Number of New Yorkers Going Hungry Increases Despite Improving Economy

May 2, 2024

Food insecurity is increasing in New York, with one-in-nine households (11.3% or 875,000 families) unable to get enough food at some point during 2020 through 2022 because they lacked money or other resources, according to a follow-up analysis released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. A report released last year found one-in-10 New York households (800,000 families) experienced food insecurity in 2019 through 2021. Nationally, food insecurity increased for the first time in over a decade to 11.2% during 2020 through 2022.

“As the COVID pandemic ended, so did many of the enhanced federal benefits that helped struggling families put food on the table, and just as food and other household costs started to rise,” DiNapoli said. “These benefits drove down the number of households facing food insecurity and food insufficiency. Higher food costs and rising poverty rates leave far too many New York households with too little to eat. I urge the federal government to expand eligibility for nutrition assistance programs so we can make sure families throughout New York and America don’t go hungry.”

Data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau since the start of the pandemic also show general increases in food insufficiency among New York and U.S. households through 2023. Rates rose in 2021 and remained elevated in 2022 and 2023. Households with children experienced the highest rates of food insufficiency over the last few years, as high as 16% in 2022. Data from the first three months of 2024 indicate that while rates are dropping, roughly one-in-nine households with children in New York sometimes or often do not have enough to eat.

Food Assistance Programs Use Remain High

During the pandemic, New York families benefitted from temporary increases in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, including a 15% increase to maximum SNAP benefit amounts from Jan. through Sept. 2021. Monthly SNAP expenditures increased by $506.4 million, or 142%, from Jan. 2020 to Feb. 2023, when supplemental emergency SNAP allotments ended.

SNAP recipients increased to 2.8 million by June 2020, and continued to trend upward through March 2023, reaching a recent peak of 3 million. SNAP recipients increased during this period even as job growth continued steadily. Since March 2023, the number of monthly SNAP recipients decreased by 1.9% to about 2.9 million in Jan. 2024.

Financial Pressures on New Yorkers

In the last five years – but especially from late 2021 through early 2023 – year-over-year “food at home” costs have risen sharply nationally. In the New York Metropolitan area, year-over-year growth in these costs increased from 4.6% in Sept. 2021 to 11.9% in July 2022 and experienced the only percentage decreases in such costs in February and March 2024.

State Budget Actions

The enacted budget for State Fiscal Year 2024-25 draws on state and federal funding to implement and administer a new federal food program for low-income families with school-aged children when schools are closed in the summer. It is estimated the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer Program for Children will serve about two million children in New York state. The enacted budget also provides a total of $192.3 million for school lunch and breakfast programs, for a year-over-year increase of $11 million. In addition, the budget appropriates $57.8 million for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program, which supplements food and operational costs of food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters, and $54.3 million for the Nourish New York program. These funding levels reflect year-over-year increases of $1.3 million and $4.3 million, respectively.

Economic and Policy Insights – Food Insecurity Persists Post-Pandemic

Related Report
New Yorkers in Need: Food Insecurity and Nutritional Assistance Programs