News Articles

Loaves and Fishes: A Glance at Hunger in New York

Catholic Charities Volunteer Assist Elderly Man with Food Assistance

September is National Hunger Awareness Month

By John Mark de Palma and Jim Sliney Jr

Catholic Charities of New York is shining a light on this important month, using it as an opportunity to give back to the community and increase awareness of the many who suffer from hunger throughout the Archdiocese – and the numbers would surprise you.

Food insecurity and hunger affects the elderly, working families, veterans, immigrants, the disabled and, worst of all, children. In New York State, studies found that 21.4% of households with children suffer from food insecurity. According to Feeding America, 1 in 9 people struggle with hunger in New York, while the ratio of children experiencing hunger in New York is 1 in 6, despite the fact that an average meal in New York State costs $3.14.

“It is important to know that hunger and food insecurity are closely related, but distinct, concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household.” –


There are other important food resources in New York, namely, the Donate NYC food portal. Donate NYC was born in 2019 out of the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) mission to send zero waste to landfills by 2030. Ezster Csicsai, senior manager for Reuse and Donations at DSNY told, “Nationally, we know that about 40% of food that is grown will be wasted”. But Donate NYC matches donors (like restaurants and grocery stores) and recipients, and strives to keep food local.


Catholic Charities supports a vast network of soup kitchens food pantries, emergency shelters, temporary and transitional housing, and permanent affordable housing to help homeless families and individuals in New York. Here are some more numbers that would surprise you:

5 million nutritious meals have been served in parish and community food programs

4,042,233 meals distributed through food pantries

11,927 families prevented from becoming homeless

The Catholic Charities of NY Food Distribution Center (aka the FOOD HUB in the South Bronx) serves as a symbol of help and hope for New York’s struggling communities. Each month, up to 100,000 pounds of packaged food and fresh produce is accepted and re-distributed up to approximately 28 food pantries and community kitchens in the Bronx as well as the Washington Heights and Inwood areas of Manhattan, making sure families receive the food they need.

Hunger and food insecurity impacts many of our neighbors. It’s a big issue and many hands and hearts and donations are needed to keep people fed. Catholic Charities and our partners can help.  

Learn more about how Catholic Charities New York helps hungry New Yorkers through Catholic Charities Community Services programs.