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Siena College survey looks at hunger in New York

Roughly one out of every eight New Yorkers has in the last year received food from a local pantry or meal program, with half of them doing so often, a new survey from Siena College Research Institute shows.

Large majorities of New Yorkers say lower income people in their area face at least somewhat, if not very, significant challenges regarding food and hunger in being able to afford nutritional food. Knowing how to plan healthy meals, having convenient access to healthy food and having transportation to stores also is a perceived challenge, the Food Security Survey shows.

Some 49 percent of survey respondents said they donate food, while 45 percent have made a monetary contribution to a charity focused on hunger. Eighteen percent donated their time at a pantry or food drive somewhat often in the last year.

Of upstate respondents, some 55 percent said being able to afford nutritional food is a very significant problem faced by lower income people in their area, while 44 percent said having adequate transportation to a grocery store is a very significant problem.

Fifty-eight percent of upstate residents said they either very often or somewhat often donated food to a pantry or drive.

“Ninety-six percent of state residents agree, most strongly, that here in the Empire State, no one should go hungry,” SCRI Director Don Levy said in a statement. “Nearly one in five volunteer their time at a pantry or food drive at least somewhat often. But while nearly half donate either food or money over the course of the year, only just over one in 10 do so very often.”

Some 17 percent of survey respondents have received government assistance from food programs, with just under 10 percent doing so very often. The survey found New Yorkers earning less than $50,000 a year both receive food from a pantry or meals program and receive governmental food assistance at a much higher rate than those who earn more than $50,000 annually.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity through this research to learn more about the opinions of New Yorkers concerning hunger and the availability of nutritious food. With 14 percent of New Yorkers struggling with having adequate food resources, according to a 2016 report from Feeding America, these are important issues that deserve more attention from us all,” said Natasha Pernicka, executive director of the Food Pantries. “We plan to further raise awareness about the impact inadequate food resources are having upon those struggling to feed themselves and to encourage community members to reach out if they are seeking food assistance or would like to get involved to help.”

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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