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New York STILL Has the Nation's Hungriest Congressional District

Continuing a trend first discovered a year ago, people in seven of the 13 congressional districts in New York City still faced severe food hardships in 2009-2010. More than 20 percent of residents in nine of those districts lacked money for food, according to just-released data collected by the Gallup Organization on behalf of the Washington, DC-based Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

The 16th Congressional District in the South Bronx, where nearly one in three residents could not afford enough food, had the highest rate in the nation, and the 10th Congressional District in Central Brooklyn, where 29.7 percent faced food hardship, had sixth highest rate out of all the country’s 436 congressional districts. Moreover, every district in the city faced significant food hardships.

“It is a horrible continuing sign of time times that in the South Bronx, one in three people still ran out of money for food and that in more than half the other neighborhoods, more than one in five did. Considering that the stock market is soaring upwards, this is an appalling continuation of distorted national priorities, which provides the latest wake up call that all levels of government need to take immediate action to reverse the city’s growing hunger, poverty, and inequality of wealth,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger

The following is the list of New York City Congressional districts in order by level of food hardship. The number before the slash is the rank in the city and the number after is the rank in the nation (out of 436).

Serrano (16th District): 1 / 1
Towns (10th District): 2 / 6
Crowley (7th District): 3 / 65
Rangel (15th District): 4 / 94
Engel (17th District): 5 / 116
Velazquez (12th District): 6 / 134
Meeks (6th District): 7 / 149
Clarke (11th District): 8 / 153
Grimm (13th District): 9 / 156
Ackerman (5th District): 10 / 382
Nadler (8th District): 11 / 407
Weiner (9th District): 12 / 425
Maloney (14th District): 13 / 431

Continued Berg, “While key parts of the city face a particularly severe problem, I believe the most notable news from this data is just how widespread food hardship still continues to be in all corners of the city and nation. Even in the relatively least hungry congressional district in the city, Congressman Weiner’s district, which has been traditionally thought of as a bedrock of middle class neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, more than one in twelve residents couldn’t afford enough food. The food hardship numbers in his district are likely higher than in the majority of industrialized Western nations of the world. Because America’s wages are now so low and our safety net so gutted, even the parts of New York City suffering the least are still in worse shape than most people in our competitor nations.”

The report analyzes survey data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The ability to provide such localized data and such up-to-date data comes from Gallup’s partnership with Healthways, interviewing 1,000 households per day since January 2009, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project. Through December 2010, more than 650,000 people have been asked a series of questions on a range of topics including emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment, and access to basic services. Specific to this report, more than 530,000 people were asked whether there were times over the preceding year that they did not have enough money to buy the food they needed or their family needed.

The Gallup survey question on food hardship is very similar to one posed by the Census Bureau and analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its official measure of food insecurity. However, because of the sample size, the Gallup survey provides a closer, more localized, and more recent look at food hardship. Official government data on food insecurity has a lag time of nearly a year and does not go below the state level.

These new numbers are especially relevant as Congress looks at jobs legislation and other strategies to mitigate the damage of the recession and reauthorizes child nutrition legislation this year. The New York City Coalition Against Hunger has joined FRAC in calling for improvements in a range of federal nutrition programs, including SNAP/ Food Stamps and child nutrition programs, for more efforts to boost the economy, create more well-paying jobs, and reduce unemployment.

“President Obama has set a goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015 but that goal is becoming more and more distant even as that date gets closer,” said Berg. “As we can see with this new data, the struggle with hunger is a serious problem here in New York for children and adults. Not a minute can be wasted between now and 2015 if we’re to reach that goal. All corners of government, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector must work together in order to implement long-term strategies that will battle our nation’s hunger crisis.”

The full report is available at www.frac.org

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