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Who Are the Food Insecure?

The USDA defines food insecurity as  “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” On Long Island, the food insecure includes the unemployed and working poor, children, seniors, veterans, the homeless, and other socio-economic and ethnic groups. Long Island Cares exists to both help feed these communities and eradicate the root causes of this blight on America.

To learn more about Food Insecurity and Food Access on Long Island, read our recent studies


Long Islanders are Food Insecure

Long Island Cares Facts & Stats


Estimated to be children


Seniors visited our pantries

Additional Facts

Who are the hungry on Long Island? Take a look at these Hunger Facts put together by Long Island Cares. Then, join the fight against hunger in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, NY, and make a difference in the lives of thousands of your neighbors.

  • 1 in 4 adults in Long Island faced food insecurity.
  • Approximately 230,000 people on Long Island suffer from food insecurity– including 68,000 children
  • 34% of food insecure people in Nassau County are not eligible for nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • 41% of food insecure people in Suffolk County are not eligible for nutrition assistance programs.
  • Because they are unable to register for nutrition assistance program like SNAP, more than 63,000 Long Islanders don’t have enough support to put food on the table.
  • Statewide, more than 2.4M New Yorkers classify as food insecure.
  • 33% of Long Island households are above the poverty level but don’t make enough to keep up with the high cost of living in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
  • 39 percent of Long Islanders who receive emergency food are children under 18 years old. While children are among the largest single population of hungry, they have virtually no voice; their needs are easily dismissed and overlooked, and they must rely on others to access the feeding programs and services they need.
  • Children who are hungry are more likely than their peers to experience behavioral issues, reduced ability to learn social skills and impaired cognitive learning – even permanent brain damage. Find out more about Children’s Nutrition programs available through Long Island Cares.
  • Approximately 70 percent of those who are hungry on Long Island are from minority populations who face education, language and employment barriers.
  • Nearly half – 48 percent – receiving emergency food assistance are the “working poor”: households that include at least one employed adult. Of these, 63% have monthly incomes below the federal poverty level. Nearly half report having to choose between paying their rent or utilities and paying for food.
  • The effects of hunger on the working poor range from lack of stamina and increased illness – which increases missed work time – to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • The elderly make up 4 percent of Long Island’s hungry. Seniors are among the hungry for many reasons, including not having enough income to afford nutritious food, suffering from depression and loneliness or experiencing the side effects from multiple medications, which can decrease the desire to eat. Many are too proud to request help.
  • Seniors who are hungry experience depression and anxiety.  They are also at increased risk for illness, disease, and even premature death.
  • About 6 percent of Long Islanders receiving food assistance are homeless and are made up of individuals who are the victims of abuse or have been forced out of closed institutions.
  • Many of these individuals are also mentally, physically, emotionally or socially disabled and face limited employment opportunities, additional barriers and/or may have difficulty feeding themselves.
  • Food banks are by far the single most important source of food for agencies with emergency food providers, accounting for 69% of the food distributed by pantries, 39% of the food distributed by kitchens and 45% of the food distributed by shelters.

Resource: Feeding America


Faces of Hunger