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New York Has Nation’s Hungriest Congressional Districts

February 18, 2010

People in seven of the 13 congressional districts in New York City faced severe food hardships, with more than 20 percent of residents in each of those districts lacking money for food in 2008-2009, 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 more than 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 30.8 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.

This report is the  first time that  data on food hardship is available for every state, every Congressional District and for 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including in the  New York-North New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA, where 13.6 percent of all people had trouble affording food.

NY CD District # U.S. Rep. Location % of residents with food hardship # food hardship rank in the city # food hardship rank in the nation (out of 436)
16th Serrano South Bronx 36.9% 1 1
10th Towns Central Brooklyn 30.8% 2 6
15th Rangel Northern Manhattan 24.1% 3 49
12th Velázquez Brooklyn/Queens 24.0% 4 50
7th Crowley Queens/Bronx 22.5% 5 75
6th Meeks Queens 21.0% 6 114 (tied)
17th Engel Bronx/Westchester 21.0% 7 114 (tied)
13th McMahon Staten Island/Brooklyn 19.8% 8 140
11th Clarke Central Brooklyn 19.5% 9 157
5th Ackerman Western Queens 14.2% 10 324
8th Nadler Manhattan/Brooklyn 10.2% 11 406
4th Maloney Manhattan 7.9% 12 428
9th Weiner Brooklyn/Queens 7.8% 13 430

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 almost every day since January 2, 2008 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project. Through December 2009, 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 food they or their family needed.

The Gallup survey question on food hardship is very similar to one posed for the USDA’s annual food security measure, but because of sample size the Gallup survey provides a closer, more localized and more recent look at food hardship. Official government data on food insecurity have a nearly one-year time lag and do 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, and for more efforts to boost the economy, create more well-paying jobs and reduce unemployment.

The full report is available at

One Comment leave one →
  1. S.Bavarsky permalink
    January 31, 2011 12:00 am

    It is good and upsetting at the same time to see that this is the first report of its kind. While it does help to show where there are truly people in need it also shows that there needs to be more of a search for those same people. This survey is a great thing to have and I hope they keep these records and update them every year to see if there is an improvement being made. To have thirteen New York districts on the total list is heart breaking. I hope that the federal nutrition programs, including SNAP/ Food Stamps and child nutrition programs can help all of the people in these districts because nobody deserves to live without knowing where their next meal is coming from.

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