Today, the Food Bank for New York City released a new study that shows Brooklyn has the highest rate of food security of all five boroughs.
The report, titled “Trade Offs at the Dinner Table,” examines the effect that 2013 cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) had on food security in the city and warns against further cuts to SNAP proposed in the federal budget.
Currently, Brooklyn has the highest rate of food insecurity of any borough, at 18.8%. That number represents a food insecure population of more than 488,000 people in 2015, the most recent year data was available.
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Perhaps the most telling number is the meal gap, which represents food insecurity as the number of meals missed when households have insufficient funds to buy food. Brooklynites missed more than 87 million meals that year because they couldn’t afford food.
The cuts that preceded these numbers are referred to as the “Hunger Cliff”—an across-the-board reduction in SNAP benefits in 2013. According to the report, nearly 60% of New York City residents who receive food from food pantries are on SNAP benefits, turning to pantries when the money runs out before the end of the month.
This has put a strain on food pantries, which have almost universally reported increased traffic since the cuts, and running out of supplies even while reducing the number of meals contained in the pantry bags they hand out.
The report can be found in its entirety on the Food Bank for New York City website.