March 31: Food Scarcity in New York State during the Pandemic

Food Scarcity in New York State during
the Pandemic

A Virtual Conversation with Avital Havusha

Wednesday, March 31, 7 pm EDT on Zoom

Science Writers in New York is pleased to present a conversation with Avital Havusha, vice president for programs at the New York State Health Foundation. Avital will talk to SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) about the foundation’s findings on food scarcity in New York State during the pandemic, ranging from racial disparities to children who are going hungry.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the COVID-related lockdown in New York, the disastrous effects of the pandemic on people’s health and lives are still emerging. Food insecurity is another coronavirus-related crisis, as millions of New Yorkers have lost income or live on reduced incomes during the shutdown—straining their ability to afford food. A new report by the New York State Health Foundation offers data on food scarcity in New York State from the start of the coronavirus pandemic through the end of 2020.

Using weekly survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the report examines food scarcity rates by race and ethnicity, age, and household income, and compares New York State with neighboring states. It shows rates of child food scarcity, continued racial disparities, and how New Yorkers are accessing free meals and groceries. 

Key highlights include:

  • New Yorkers ended 2020 hungrier than in the spring. In December 2020, 14 percent of adult New Yorkers reported that there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in their household, as compared with 10 percent of adult New Yorkers in May 2020
  • New Yorkers of color generally reported higher rates of food scarcity. 1 in 3 Hispanic New Yorkers (32 percent) and 1 in 5 Black New Yorkers (21 percent) reported household food scarcity in the last 7 days in December 2020—this is 2 to 3.5 times higher than among white New Yorkers.
  • 19 percent of adults with children in their household reported that the children were often or sometimes not eating enough in the prior week because the household could not afford enough food, in December 2020. For people of color, the rates were even higher: 37 percent of Hispanic adults and 23 percent of Black adults living with children in the household reported child food scarcity during this same period.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 New Yorkers reported that their households were accessing free meals or groceries. In most months, school programs were the most-used access points.
  • New York State’s food scarcity rate was higher than those reported in neighboring states for nearly every month.

 More details are in the report, including interactive graphics and data. 

About Avital Havusha

Avital Havusha is vice president for programs at the New York State Health Foundation. Prior to that she was managing director, Performance Improvement, at the Primary Care Development Corporation, deputy director, Public Health Solutions, and policy director, Bureau of Health Planning, at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She has a master’s of public health from Yale University and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Washington University in Saint Louis.

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Wednesday, March 31
7 to 8 pm on Zoom


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