COVID-19: Food Insecurity Still Plaguing New Yorkers as State Reopens


One in four households with children in New York has gone hungry as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, and many families have reported difficulty getting the food they need, according to a new survey from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

“Child food insecurity and hunger are among the most debilitating consequences of insufficient income,” said Distinguished Professor of Public Health Nicholas Freudenberg, who is also director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. 

“Their long-term health and social consequences emphasize the importance of acting now to reduce this burden on the future health of New Yorkers.”

More than 2 million people in the United States have tested positive for Coronavirus and the number has only skyrocketed as states attempted to reopen prematurely. Poor people and people of color are being disproportionately impacted by the virus. New York has been called the epicenter of the pandemic. There are more than 210,000 confirmed cases in New York City and more than 22,000 people have died here, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Several states, including New York, have implemented plans to reopen. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a phase-by-phase plan after deaths in New York slowed and new cases of the virus declined drastically. 

Still, the impacts of the virus are still being felt by several communities in the state. In the tracking survey of 1,000 New Yorkers, 44% reported being worried that their household would run out of food before they could afford to buy more. And 30% said they weren’t able to pay for the food they needed.

“Lower-income households reported spending more on food and eating more packaged food as compared to higher-income households. This was also true for Black and Latinx households as compared to white households,” the researchers noted. “These findings suggest that the dietary changes associated with the COVID-19 epidemic may be widening pre-existing dietary inequities in New York City.”

Groups have stepped up to stem the tide of hunger amid the health crisis, though. Schools like the College of Staten Island, Brooklyn College, Medgar Evers College, and more have set up food pantries to help families in need.

The recent findings are consistent with past surveys, which found that Latinx/Hispanic and low-income families experienced this food insecurity most. 

The recent survey is part of CUNY SPH’s efforts to determine attitudes and outcomes among New Yorkers about everything from job loss and mental health to housing and testing amid the COVID-19 health crisis. It was also published by JHC Impact, a blog of the Journal of Health Communication.

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As Food Insecurity Continues to Plague New Yorkers, Impact on Children is Worrisome
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, 2020

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