Report shows food hardship increased from 2021 to 2022—rising from 30% to 34% among adults and from 39% to 43% among families with children.

Findings indicate need for federal policies and relief programs ahead of the holiday season.

Local food pantries stepping up to support growing needs of New Yorkers facing multiple financial hardships. 

Contact: Crystal Cooper,

New York, NY — Today, Robin Hood, in collaboration with Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy and the Columbia Population Research Center, released its latest Poverty Tracker spotlight—a measure that seeks to explore how New Yorkers experience poverty and material hardship over time. The report, “Spotlight on Food Hardship: Compounding hardships and health challenges among New Yorkers struggling to afford food,” documents an increase in the rate of food hardship among New York families with children, signaling a return to pre-pandemic levels following the expiration of additional benefits made available in 2020 and 2022. With the holiday season nearly upon us, the report finds that a majority of New Yorkers who run out of food face compounding financial pressures—including trouble paying monthly bills, elevated health-related problems and housing insecurity.

As the number of New Yorkers experiencing food hardship grows, the report identifies key policies that are effective at providing immediate relief, like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), that are currently being negotiated by Congress in this year’s spending bill. However, a gap remains between the demand for public benefits and the ability of the existing safety net to meet the increased  needs of New Yorkers experiencing hardship. Food pantries are stepping up to meet these needs and serve as a critical resource across the city for New York families, including the growing migrant population. 

Today, Robin Hood and Columbia are releasing the 2023 Spotlight on Food Hardship in partnership with emergency food provider New York Common Pantry, as they prepare for the busiest distribution day of the year, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, at their East Harlem location.

“Robin Hood’s food partners, like New York Common Pantry, are here to keep New York families, including migrants coming to our City for the first time, fed and healthy– especially during the holidays and difficult winter months ahead. With the future of government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) hanging in the balance amid a potential government shutdown, we need Congress to prioritize funding these essential benefits,” said Robin Hood CEO Richard R. Buery, Jr. “Our latest Poverty Tracker report shows the ever-increasing need for food assistance and the widespread, detrimental repercussions when federal policies are left to languish.”

Key findings from the report include: 

  • In 2022, more than a third (34%) of adults and almost half (43%) of families with children in New York City experienced food hardship—a significant increase from 2021. 
  • Approximately 1 in 10 adults (7%) and families with children (7%) experienced severe food hardship.
  • The overwhelming majority (81%) of New Yorkers facing food hardship also experience at least one other material hardship such as having utilities shut off, staying in a shelter, running out of money, or not seeing a doctor because of cost.
  • New Yorkers facing severe food hardship are three times more likely to experience health problems, serious psychological distress, and low life satisfaction than those not struggling to afford food.

“The latest Poverty Tracker Report is a solemn reminder this holiday season that almost half of New York families with children struggle to put food on the table. It is also a reminder that often, this struggle does not happen in isolation, with more than 4 in 5 New Yorkers facing severe food hardship also experiencing at least one other material hardship, like having their utilities shut off or being unable to afford to see a doctor,” said Chris Yera, Research Analyst at the Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy. “While these findings signal an unfortunate return to the hardship our city faced before the expiration of pandemic-era government policies and relief programs, they prove that these issues are not unsolvable – these programs were and are effective in helping families meet their basic needs.”

“For those who are struggling with food hardship, the holidays are a particularly difficult time. People come to New York Common Pantry seeking food and we provide it through our brick-and-mortar Choice Pantries, hot meals and brown bag lunches, and our mobile program which brings food aid directly into under-resourced neighborhoods across the city,” said Stephen Grimaldi, Executive Director, New York Common Pantry. “Our case managers then work with these families to help access public benefits and resources to address the other concurrent hardships they face. NYCP is able to offer this assistance only with the support of donors and volunteers, and partners like Robin Hood,” Grimaldi concluded. 

Since 2012, the Poverty Tracker has surveyed a representative sample of 3,000 New York households every three months, providing critical information on the dynamics of poverty and other forms of disadvantage in the city while tracking data on employment, assets and debts, and health. The Poverty Tracker has monitored the impacts that COVID-19 and the related economic downturn have had on life in New York City since the onset of the pandemic.

Read the full report HERE.


About Robin Hood:

This year Robin Hood celebrates its 35th year of funding, supporting, and connecting New York’s most impactful community organizations at the forefront in the battle against poverty. We’re NYC’s largest local poverty-fighting philanthropy and since 1988, we’ve invested nearly $3 billion to elevate and fuel the permanent escape of New Yorkers from poverty. Last year, through grantmaking with 300+ community partners, we created pathways to opportunities out of poverty for more than 325,000 New Yorkers, and through our strategic partnerships on child care, child poverty, jobs, and living wages, we are scaling impact at a population level for the more than 1.5 million New Yorkers living in poverty. At Robin Hood, we believe your starting point in life should not define where you end up. To learn more about our work and impact, follow us on Twitter @RobinHoodNYC or go to

About the Center on Poverty and Social Policy (CPSP):

The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia School of Social Work produces cutting-edge research to advance our understanding of poverty and the role of social policy in reducing poverty and promoting opportunity, economic security, and individual and family-wellbeing. The Center’s work focuses on poverty and social policy issues in New York City and the United States.

About Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC):

The Columbia Population Research Center supports population health researchers across Columbia University, galvanizing new interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaborations, promoting the professional development of junior scientists, and enabling members to do work that is more innovative and impactful. Our members’ interests encompass four primary research areas: Children, Youth, and Families; Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS; Immigration/Migration; and Urbanism, with cross-cutting attention to inequalities and policies to mitigate those inequalities.

About New York Common Pantry:

New York Common Pantry works toward the reduction of hunger and food insecurity through an array of programs that function to establish long-term independence for those we serve. Our whole-person approach starts with food provision through the distribution of nutritious, fresh food in Choice Pantry and hearty balanced Hot Meals program. Our whole-person approach helps to address the reasons for food insecurity with case management social services which help Pantry guests and unhoused guests access public benefits. NYCP’s nutrition education program teaches families how to eat healthy and stretch their food dollars and offers cooking classes to learn how to prepare foods provided by our Pantry.

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