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Poverty and Food Insecurity in NYC

New York City has a poverty rate of almost twice the national average — New York City had a poverty rate of 23% in 2022, where the nation overall poverty rate was only 12%. According to the NYC Mayor’s Office of Food Policy annual 2022 Food Metrics Annual Report, an estimated 1.2 million (14.6%) New York City residents were food insecure.

The federal poverty line is the estimate of the price of a minimum food diet for a given family size, multiplied by three. This measure is exactly the same across the country — in 2024 a family of four is counted as living in poverty if their income is below $31,200, regardless of if they live in Manhattan or in a rural area.

In reality, costs vary dramatically across the country, and even within the City. When we use a measure of “True Cost of Living” (that accounts for different rent and food costs across the city, and includes other basic needs like medical and childcare) a total of half of households in New York City are earning below their True Cost of Living.

Even using the national poverty measure, which doesn’t account for the high cost of living in NYC, New York City has a higher poverty rate than the nation at large in four boroughs:

  • Bronx, 27.6%
  • Brooklyn, 19.8%
  • Manhattan, 17.2%
  • Queens, 13.1%
  • National, 11.5%
  • Staten Island, 11.2%

SNAP Recipients

Apr 2024
1,786,494 People
20% of NYC Residents

Emergency Food Providers

Apr 2024
511 Locations
428 Food Pantries / 79 Soup Kitchens
(Some locations are both!)

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Food Insecurity in NYC

Food insecurity rates range between 5% and 32% in New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTAs). Nationally, the food insecurity rate is 13.5%.

The NTAs with the highest food insecurity are:

  • 32% Claremont Village-Claremont (East) (32%)
  • Brownsville (31%)
  • West Farms (29%)
  • Belmont (27%)
  • Mott Haven-Port Morris (26%)
  • Fordham Heights (26%)

The NTAs with the lowest food insecurity are:

  • Annadale-Huguenot-Prince’s Bay-Woodrow (5%)
  • Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill (6%)
  • Long Island City-Hunters Point (6%)
  • East Midtown-Turtle Bay (6%)
  • Tribeca-Civic Center (6%)
  • Douglaston-Little Neck (6%)

Programs assisting New Yorkers with Food Access

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP is the nation’s food safety net and nutrition assistance program. The program:

  • provides assistance to 1,058,883 households in NYC
  • determines eligibility based on income, number of people in the household, and age
  • awards up to a maximum of $219 per person per month (~$7 per day)

In New York City, SNAP is used at different rates in different parts of the city. Explore the map below featuring data from April 2024 to see where SNAP is most heavily used and how that has changed over the past year

Overall, as of April 2024, approximately 20% of NYC residents were enrolled in SNAP. The five Community Districts with the highest percentage of residents using SNAP were all in the Bronx, and had over 40% of residents using SNAP.

Community Food Connection

CFC administers funding and coordinates distribution of food to more than 500 food pantries and soup kitchens citywide. In 2023, these food pantries served 30,134,733 people (including repeat visitors) and soup kitchens provided 3,448,196 meals.

Access to CFC locations can be difficult, as there may not be one near you and they are open at different hours. For more information and help finding a location near you, please visit the FEED-NYC dashboard.

The Community Districts with the most Emergency Food Assistance Programs per capita are:

  • Brooklyn CB 17 (East Flatbush, Ramsen Village, Farragut, Rugby, Erasmus)
  • Bronx CB 3 (Crotona Park, Claremont Village, Concourse Village, Woodstock)
  • Queens CB 12 (Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Rochdale Village)
  • Bronx CB 2 (Hunts Point, Longwood, and Morrisania)
  • Brooklyn CB 16 (Brownsville and Ocean Hill)
  • Bronx CB 1 (Mott Haven, Port Morris, and Melrose)
The Community Districts with the fewest Emergency Food Assistance Programs per capita are:

  • Manhattan CB 1 (Tribeca, Seaport/Civic Center, Financial District, Battery Park City)
  • Manhattan CB 6 (Stuyvesant Town, Tudor City, Turtle Bay, Peter Cooper Village)
  • Queens CB 11 (Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, East Flushing)
  • Staten Island CB 2 (New Dorp, Old Town, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill)
  • Queens CB 4 (Corona, Corona Heights, Elmhurst, and Newtown)
  • Bronx CB 11 (Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Pelham Gardens, Allerton, Bronxdale)

Food Access

For more data research & visualizations on food insecurity and food access in New York City, visit the FEED-NYC dashboard.

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To address these issues, the Committee on General Welfare will be hearing the following legislation on May 29th, 2024:

  • Requires the Department of Social Services to obtain employment and income information from a third-party to make determinations for benefits and services eligibility. Int 0028-2024
  • Resolution calling on Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the “Hot Foods Act of 2023,” to permit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to be used to purchase hot foods.
    Res 0025-2024
  • Resolution calling upon the United States Congress to pass and the President to sign the American Family Act, which would expand the Child Tax Credit. Res 0050-2024
  • Resolution calling on Congress to pass, and the President to sign, a renewed Farm Bill that increases funding for life-saving food aid. Res 0227-2024
  • Resolution calling on Congress to pass, and the President to sign the “Enhance Access to SNAP Act of 2023” to remove certain eligibility disqualifications that restrict eligible students from participating in SNAP. Res 0237-2024

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Created by the NYC Council Data Team