ELMSFORD, NY (June 30, 2023) – New, ground-breaking research released today by Feeding Westchester reveals a more complete picture of hunger in Westchester County, and identifies neighborhoods in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Ossining, and Yonkers with the greatest unmet hunger needs.
The Hunger Relief Systems Analysis, conducted by Feeding Westchester and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the first-of-its-kind extensive evaluation of hunger in Westchester County. The analysis looked at how to expand and improve people’s access to food county-wide.
“We hear almost every day that people are surprised hunger is a significant problem in affluent Westchester County, but it is very real throughout Westchester,” said Karen C. Erren, President & CEO of Feeding Westchester. “We carried out this research to get a more complete picture of hunger so we can deepen our impact.”
Data from multiple sources (e.g., demographic, health statistics, retail food locations, public transit locations, food supply estimates, food distribution points) was compiled and overlaid into a county-wide map using geographic information systems (GIS) technology. By mapping the need for food assistance, the supply of food, and the location and capacity of feeding partner distribution sites, Feeding Westchester can see a more holistic picture of the hunger-relief system throughout the county.
“Our goal is always to create pathways out of hunger for our neighbors in Westchester County. This new, interactive visual tool will help us do just that. We can now see — neighborhood by neighborhood — opportunities to expand and improve equitable access to food services,” said Erren.
Caring About the Experience of Those in Need
The research also included interviews with food pantry visitors and surveys of 120 community partners to see how people interact with the hunger-relief system and to find ways to improve their experience.
“The perspective of individuals with lived experiences is often neglected or minimized in problem-solving,” said Erren. “We were deliberate through our research in amplifying their voices and experiences to inform a better client experience.”
The research found that people in the highest unmet need areas face structural disadvantages to accessing food, ranging from language barriers to under-staffed agencies to limited food supply and choices, and more.
Engaging the Community in Four Priority Initiatives
From this detailed Hunger Relief Systems Analysis, Feeding Westchester has identified four priority initiatives that the community can do together to address equitable access to food in Westchester County:
“There are tangible steps we, as a community, can take together to alleviate hunger, which we will continue to root in addressing the needs of our clients and unlocking the potential of our partners,” said Erren.
Notes to Editors: Hunger Relief Systems Analysis for Westchester County data and methodology.
What and where is the need for food assistance in Westchester County? What and where is the local food supply? What is the existing capacity of the hunger relief network to meet the need? How can we improve it?
1 Source: Federal poverty level & ALICE 2020 report 2-4 Source: Feeding Westchester’s Community Needs Assessment (July 2021) 5 Source: Feeding Westchester mobile food pantry data (March to June 2023)