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THE STATUS REPORT ON HUNGER IN MASSACHUSETTS

Each year, Project Bread releases a status report on hunger in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The 2016 Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts
2016 cover
Hunger is a complex problem and as you will read in our 2016 Status Report on hunger in Massachusetts, the face of hunger has changed—it affects people of all ages and circumstances. Addressing hunger calls for multiple solutions like healthy meals at school, learning to cook and budget, subsidized groceries instead of no-cost groceries, home delivered meals for elders and subsidized CSA shares. Food pantries still play an important role within this diversified portfolio of help, but we believe there is a better approach. At Project Bread, we work every day to shorten the line in order to open up more dignified and equitable options for people who want a hand up, not a hand out.
Overview
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At the height of the recession in 2011, food insecurity was at its peak in Massachusetts at 11.9%. Now, with unemployment at a 15-year low, we expect to see a similar decline in food insecuirty. But at 9.7%, food insecurity is still 24% higher than it was a decade ago. And the very low food security rate is 50% higher. Today, 1 in 10 households in Massaachusetts are food insecure. 

And while more people are working, their income doesn't keep up with the basic costs of living—such as housing and child care—and too many households are forced to cut back on consistent, nutritious meals. 

This report highlights their situation–and what Project Bread is doing to help.

Findings & Recommendations
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Findings:

  • There are nearly 266,500 food insecure households in Massachusetts, approximately 123,615 of which face very-low food security.
  • The crisis of the recession has passed, but the food insecuirty rate has settled at just below 10% and hasn't returned to its pre-recession levels.
  • Despite unemployment in Massachusetts at a 15-year low, food insecurity is not going down due in part to the rising cost of living, including housing and child care. Massachusetts is currently ranked at having the second highest child care costs in the country. Additionally, over the last six years, the average monthly rent in greater Boston for a 2-bedroom apartment has increased by nearly $800.
  • Massachusetts current $10 minimum wage (increasing to $11 by 2017) is a "poverty wage" in most of the states counties. The average "living wage" for a single parent household with two children in Massachusetts, as estimated by the Living Wage Calculator, is $29.48.
  • Only an estimated 28% of food insecure households nationally used food pantries in 2015.
  • The "Thrify Food Plan" used as the national benchmark for setting the maximum SNAP allowance for a household is inadequate.

Recommendations:

  • Project Bread fully supports a statewide effort to raise Massachusetts' minimum hourly wage from the current $10 ($11 in 2017) to $15.
  • Project Bread supports increases to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as an effective intervention to help working families meet the rising cost of living.
  • Although food pantries still play an important roll within the diversified portfolio of help, Project Bread works every day to shorten the line in order to open up more dignified and equitable options for people who want a hand up, not a hand out. We focus on programs that educate and empower individuals, families, and communities to move from needing stop gap measures like food pantries, to finding sustainable solutions to ending hunger and poverty.
  •  Project Bread recommends the "Low-Cost Food Plan" be used as the national benchmark for setting the maximum SNAP allowance for a household to favorably impact food spending and health.
Charts & Graphs
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