Who is Hungry
in the Hudson Valley?
There is not one specific face that defines hunger in the Hudson Valley, but need is certainly here, while not often noticed in plain sight. It is estimated that one in ten of our neighbors in the Valley are defined as food insecure, with one third of the children in the region being eligible for free or reduced lunches. That amounts to approximately 90,000 of our friends and neighbors.
Early during the COVID-19 pandemic, FeedHV receiving agencies were reporting a doubling of demand for their assistance services, The Hudson Valley Food Bank was reporting a 40% increase in the need for its services, and Feeding America was likewise reporting that nationwide, the demand at food banks was up by 40% on average, and in some areas, up 50%. Point made: The need for FeedHV as a community food network is greater than ever.
Food Insecurity Exists
When People Don’t Have or
Can’t Get Enough Decent Food to Eat
Simply stated: food insecurity exists when people don’t have or can’t get enough decent food to eat.
A fuller picture emerges when we
look at low-income and low-access
both separately and together.
There is a mix of these factors across
the region, including a considerable
number of places of low-access in
both urban and rural places.
Hunger Exists Due to Poverty and Access
Poverty may be considered to be the greatest contributing factor to hunger. And while the poverty line varies among Hudson Valley counties, there are some residents who tend toward higher rates, including women, children, single mothers, people of color, those foreign born (in our region, migrants), the disabled, those with only a high school education or less, the unemployed, and the elderly. There is also a higher level of poverty in the region’s major cities.
According to the May 2020 report “Vulnerability Revealed – COVID-19 and the Hudson Valley Food System” from Pattern for Progress, in most of the counties in the Hudson Valley region, around one in ten families receive SNAP. However, many families that need food assistance do not qualify for this federal assistance. In order to be eligible for SNAP benefits, a household’s gross income must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line, the net income must be at or below the poverty line, and assets (money in bank accounts, for example) must be of $2,250 or less.
The federal poverty line in fiscal year 2020 is $1,778 per month for a family of three and 130 percent of this is $2,311 a month. The poverty line is adjusted based on the size of families and higher assets are permitted for households with an elderly person or a person with a disability. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities "A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits," November 2019)
Poverty, combined with lack of access to food, lead to food deserts, not uncommon in challenged rural communities or urban centers. The USDA defines a food desert as a region in which there is a 20% poverty rate or a medium income below 80% of the area’s medium and that 500 people, or at least 33% of the residents live more than one mile from a supermarket if in an urban center, and 10 miles if living in a rural community.
Source: 2018 ACS U.S. Census
Poverty Rates by County in the FeedHV Network*
*2019 Poverty Report, New York State Community Action Association
There is need in the Hudson Valley, now and in the future. Join FeedHV and become a food hero as a donor, volunteer or receiving agency.