Media & Research

Hunger Free America, formerly known as The New York City Coalition Against Hunger, is a national leader in media advocacy in the anti-hunger fight, and our original research is the most widely cited data on hunger in New York City.

Past media coverage includes The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Up with Chris Hayes, The Ed Show, CNN, the NBC Evening News, The New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Guardian, National Public Radio the Wall Street Journal, NPR, NY1, and many more.

Hunger Free America's research and reports have been at the cutting edge of anti-hunger policy decisions throughout the years.  A few of our most influential reports are listed below. To view our Annual Hunger Survey Reports, click here.

Access Denied: Unemployment and SNAP Benefits Application Barriers During the Pandemic 

By Angelica Gibson


During the Covid-19 health and hunger emergency, state and county systems necessary for eligible families to obtain Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and/or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits often collapsed entirely or caused major application barriers, keeping vital food and cash away from millions of families struggling to fill their grocery carts, pay for housing, and meet other basic living expenses.

To begin fixing this problem, Hunger Free America supports passage of the federal Health, Opportunity, and Personal Empowerment (HOPE) Act to make it easier for struggling Americans to submit applications for multiple benefits programs simultaneously and easily.

Read the full report:

Summer Meals for Children Site Barriers and Opportunities 2019

By Natalie Amstutz

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) – colloquially known as the Summer Meals Program – is a federally-funded food aid program, where breakfasts and/or lunches are available free of cost to children 18 years of age or younger during their summer break from school. Summer Meals sites are run by both local government agencies (most often school districts) and nonprofit groups. They exist across the country at sites as diverse as public schools, community pools, public parks, libraries, and community centers.

In 2019, the federal government reimbursement rate for most sites was $2.56 per breakfast and $3.97 for lunch. Some rural sites, and sites in Alaska and Hawaii, had slightly higher reimbursement rates. These reimbursements are, in theory, supposed to cover both food costs and administrative expenses. The reimbursement rates in urban areas, however, are often not reflective of higher labor costs and can make sites struggle financially.

No ID or registration is required for children to consume the meals, but a number of restrictions to the program exist that may limit participation including (usually) serving cold meals, prohibiting children from eating their meals off-site, and excluding parents and guardians from consuming meals. Additional barriers include travel distance from the sites, weather concerns, and the quality of the food. We surveyed 52 administrators and employees at Summer Meals sponsor sites across the country to obtain their opinions of the program and their recommendations on how it can be improved.

Read the full report here:

From Well-­Fed to Well-­Read:

How the Federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill Can Slash Child Hunger, Reduce Poverty, and Boost Education

By Joel Berg and Phillip Mathew

To be well read, children must first be well fed. To be schooled, they must be fueled. The United States suffers from high rates of childhood food insecurity and lags behind in educational performance, two highly interconnected problems. The upcoming federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill is a crucial opportunity for Congress and the President to ensure that child nutrition programs help all American children reach their maximum potential.

This paper will discuss child hunger in America, how it impacts the health, emotional, and educational well-­being of children, and the current state of the major federal child nutrition programs. It will outline the significant policy reforms that, if funded fully, would drastically reduce child hunger.

Read the full report here:

Families Bear a Burden of Caring for and Feeding Kids in the Summer:

Government-Funded Summer Meals and Summer Camps Only Partially Relieve the Burden

By Dr. Norbert Wilson, Magdalen Andreoni, and David Stillman

The extra expense of childcare and feeding children during the summer break can present logistical and financial challenges for all families, but these burdens may fall particularly hard on families with low incomes. For example, nearly two-thirds of families surveyed stated that they spent more on food in the summer than during the school year. We found that close to half of the families we surveyed strongly agreed that it was a challenge to meet basic household expenses during the summer months. The families in the survey faced financial hardships as over 40% participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formally the Food Stamp Program) and nearly a quarter visited food pantries. Despite the extra cost of feeding children in the summer, we found that nearly 55% of families received free meals, which can come from summer camps and other programs.

Read the full report here:

The Food Benefit Digital Divide:

States and Counties Vary Greatly on Use of Technology to Ease Access to Nutrition Assistance

White Paper Produced by Hunger Free America

While government safety net programs help tens of millions of Americans avoid severe hunger, homelessness, and other outcomes even more dreadful than everyday poverty, government anti-poverty and nutrition aid can still be extraordinarily difficult to obtain and keep. That’s why millions of low-income Americans are unable or unwilling to access benefits for which they are legally eligible. In just one example,17 percent of all people – and 28 percent of working people – eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly called food stamps – benefits fail to receive them.

Read the full report here:

SNAP Declines Yet Hunger Persists:

NYC Caseloads 2012-2016 and the Need to Ease Access to Benefits


Between 2012 and 2016, New York City experienced a 7.3% decline in participation in the federally-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), despite 1.2 million city residents living in food insecure households during that time, a level higher than a decade ago. This study analyzed data on SNAP caseloads, economic trends, and surveys of SNAP applicants and participants to better understand the large drop in SNAP participation over this period and to identify strategies to improve access to SNAP benefits for all New Yorkers in need of food assistance.

Read the Full Report Here:

Fighting Poverty with HOPE:

By Joel Berg

Technology has fundamentally revamped the lives of most Americans, usually for the better. Now it’s time to use digital technology – combined with policy improvements – to simplify the lives and boost the long-term self-sufficiency of our lowest-income residents. One powerful way to do this is for our federal, state, and local governments to create online HOPE (Health, Opportunity, and Personal Empowerment) accounts and action plans.

Read the Full Report Here:

Summer Meals Barrier Analysis, 2016

By Christine Binder

This report seeks to answer a basic question: Why do so many low-income children who receive free or reduced price lunch during the school year fail to receive free summer meals? While this study analyzed barriers to participation New York City, its findings have significant implications for summer meals programs sites in urban areas nationwide.

Three out of four New York City public school students are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. One in five New York City children live in food insecure households, meaning that they have limited or uncertain access to food.1 Yet during the summer of 2014, only a quarter (26 percent) of the children who depend on free or reduced-price lunch during the school year also ate lunch through the summer meals program, a federally-funded program delivered primarily by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) School Food.

Read full report here.

How the Child and Adult Care Food Program Improves Early Childhood Education

By Christine Binder, Joel Berg, Maryam Adamu, and Katie Hamm June 2015

The upcoming federal child nutrition reauthorization, or CNR, process provides
Congress the opportunity to support early childhood through CACFP. This
report makes a case for why Congress should include provisions in the CNR bill
to reduce participation barriers for programs and providers and maximize the
program’s potential.

Read the full report here.

Good Food, Good Jobs: Turning Food Deserts Into Jobs Oases

By Joel Berg, December 2009

Our hunger, malnutrition, obesity, and poverty problems are closely linked. Low-income areas across America that lack access to nutritious foods at affordable prices -- the so-called “food deserts” -- tend to be the same communities and neighborhoods that, even in better economic times, are also “job deserts” that lack sufficient living-wage employment. A concurrent problem has been the growing concentration of our food supply in a handful of food companies that are now “too big to fail.” A Good Food, Good Jobs program can address these intertwined economic and social problems.

Originally published by the Progressive Policy Institute.

Read the full report: