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Project Bread Reports Increased Hunger and Food Insecurity in Massachusetts

2007 Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts Reports 22 Percent Increase Over Last Reporting Period

Contact: Dina Piran, Project Bread, 617-239-2524,  

EAST BOSTON, November 14 /Standard Newswire/ --Project Bread, the state’s leading antihunger organization, released today its fifth Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts, the state’s annual report card on hunger, indicating increased hunger and food insecurity present in the Commonwealth, especially in low-income communities.

Key findings include: food insecurity and food insecurity with hunger, two measures of inadequate nutrition for daily life, have increased by 22 percent over the last reporting period; children living in poor and low-income families are disproportionately affected; hunger has serious medical consequences, especially for children; low-income children receive more than half their calories a day from school food, making the improvement of its nutritional quality important; and in order to provide families with long-term help we must make use of all under-enrolled federal food programs, such as food stamps, school meals, after-school nutritious snack programs, and summer food, which will also bring millions of dollars in federal aid into the Commonwealth.

The USDA and U.S. Census Bureau reported that 450,000 people in the Bay State lack adequate food. According to the Status Report, hunger is primarily found in low-income communities, where the rate of hunger is six times higher than the statewide average. Low-income families and individuals are running out of food each month due to the combined result of limited earnings and the high cost of living.

  • Hunger and food insecurity among Massachusetts families have increased from an average of 6.4 percent in 20002002 to an average of 7.8 percent in 20032005.

  • That Massachusetts has one of the highest income disparities in the country, which means that the there is a greater gap between the rich and poor;

  • Income disparity affects low-income people negatively because a relatively high proportion of middle-class families drives up the cost of living, putting everyday expenses beyond the reach of many lower-income families;

  • In 2005, the poverty level for a family of four was $20,000; however, even families with twice this income are barely able to sustain themselves. 

  • Children are disproportionately affected by hunger. In 20042006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, averaged data showed the incomes of 8.1 percent of Massachusetts families (or 131,333 families) fell below the poverty level. However the children living in poverty were numbered at 12 percent or 176,450.

  • Emergency food programs, supported by The Walk for Hunger, provide a lifesaving emergency response to those in crisis. However federal nutrition programs like food stamps, school meals, and summer food programs for children are currently under-enrolled in Massachusetts and offer a long-term stability as well as a way to increase access to fresh and healthy food for whole populations of food-insecure households. 

  • Hunger is a public health problem with serious consequences for the most vulnerable citizens in the Commonwealth. We know that good health and good nutrition are inextricably linked and that low-income children receive more than half their calories a day from school food. Low-income children and families are at higher risk of obesity, which is also a growing health problem. Policies to address hunger must incorporate a commitment to good nutrition so that we provide hungry children and families with food that supports their health.

The Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts provides some intriguing new insights into possible solutions:

  • Hunger and obesity are linked, as low-income families seek to nourish themselves with food with cheaper foods, which are also higher in sugar, fats, and salt. (Go to for a Comparison of Two Shopping Lists.”)

  • Make full enrollment in currently under-enrolled federal nutrition programs a priority as a first step toward stabilizing families. These programs provide long-term hunger solutions that are integrated into the normal course of daily living. These programs have the added benefit of targeting whole populations in need and bring in millions of dollars to Commonwealth.

  • Improve the quality of school food. Collaborate with public health officials, pediatricians, educators, and parents, as well as political and community leaders, to advocate for nutritious school food that supports children’s health.

  • Continue to seek non-traditional ways to expand the number of solutions to hunger, including introducing hunger screening in routine pediatric visits and providing health workers with ways to help struggling families.

“Our emergency food programs are now serving more people than they were designed to serve — teenagers, the working poor, the elderly, and families with young children,” said Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread. “It’s more important than ever to reduce the demand on them by helping families take full advantage of existing federal nutrition programs, including free school and summer meals for children and, of course, food stamps. When a hungry child eats a free breakfast and lunch at school, he or she puts money back into the family budget for dinner.”   

About Project Bread: As the state’s leading antihunger organization, Project Bread is dedicated to alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts. Through The Walk for Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country, Project Bread provides millions of dollars each year in privately donated funds to 400 emergency food programs in 126 communities statewide. Project Bread also advocates systematic solutions that prevent hunger in children and that provide food to families in everyday settings.

Learn more and download the full report at