Get the Facts

The latest data on food insecurity in Massachusetts from Project Bread

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Understanding the issue

In support of our mission to end hunger in Massachusetts, we use internal and external data to inform our direct service programs and to make evidence-based policy recommendations.

We believe scientific evidence is critical in promoting equity and so we prioritize providing inclusive and accurate statistics. Our research and analyses is based on our efforts to ensure that we are using the highest quality data available. 

Food insecurity doubled during the pandemic

Prior to the pandemic, household food insecurity in Massachusetts was at 8.2%. The coronavirus pandemic fueled a hunger crisis unlike any other in our lifetime, at it's peak rendering 19.6% of households food insecure. While the current rate of food insecurity is lower than at the height of the pandemic, too many households are still struggling with food access, and a return to pre-pandemic rates is not an option.

Overall Trend

In Massachusetts, the rate of food insecurity is approaching its May 2020 pandemic peak.

Recent data show that food insecurity rates have been inching closer to the high we saw at the onset of the pandemic in May 2020. Rates have been hovering between 16% to 18% in recent months. For all households in MA, the current rate of food insecurity (16.8%) is still lower than that of the May 2020 peak. 

Source: U.S. Household Pulse Survey weeks 2-53

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Child Hunger

Food insecurity among households with children is trending upwards.

Recent trends show that food insecurity among households with children in Massachusetts is trending upwards from the low we saw in April 2021 when families were receiving a whole host of federal and state level benefits. Recently rates have been fluctuating between 19% to 22%, and as of early January 2023, an estimated 21% of households with children are facing food insecurity. The rising costs of housing and other basic needs, like food, are factors that can likely be attributed to the rising rates of food insecurity. ​

Source: US Census Household Pulse Survey

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Going back to 8.2% is not success

We can—and must—do better for each other, a return to ‘normal’ is not an option.

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Inequities

BIPOC households are recovering from the pandemic significantly slower than white households.

BIPOC households are recovering from the pandemic significantly slower than white households. In the last 6 months (August 2022 - January 2023), 1 in 6 (18.4%) white households with children compared to more than 1 in 3 (34%) Black households with children and approximately 1 in 3 (35.5%) Latino/a households with children were food insecure.

Source: US Census Household Pulse Survey

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Shedding light on disparities

LGBTQ+ individuals face greater rates of food insecurity

The LGBTQ+ community has faced oppression throughout history. They face many barriers and obstacles that suppress their voices and economic opportunities, and cause several other negative impacts. This oppression has a major impact on the community’s food security. 

16.6% of LGBTQ+ Households in Massachusetts experienced food insecurity Starts Line

Child Tax Credit

Majority of Child Tax Credit Spent on Basic Needs & Debt

An estimated 70% of households in Massachusetts that received the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in July spent the payment on food, rent, utilities, or debt. The highest category was food, underscoring the importance of the CTC in helping families in Massachusetts. We support making the expansion of the CTC permanent so households with children continue to receive support in meeting their needs.

Note: Table percentages total more than 100 because respondents were allowed to choose more than one category.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey week 34

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The importance of SNAP

SNAP provides 9 meals for every 1 meal a food bank provides

The federal nutrition program, SNAP, is our country’s most effective and efficient response to hunger. Only SNAP has the ability to quickly scale up to meet any size of need. SNAP is proven to reduce food insecurity and lift people out of poverty.

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SNAP Trends

SNAP enrollment has increased substantially since the onset of the pandemic.

SNAP has been a powerhouse during the pandemic to help individuals and families afford food. As of January 2022, Massachusetts has surpassed 1 million SNAP recipients in the state. Enrollment data show that Massachusetts continues to see increases in SNAP enrollment. As of December 2022, there are 1,064,650 people and 642,699 households in Massachusetts receiving SNAP. 

Source: Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance

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Our latest Research

Barriers to SNAP

During the pandemic, state and federal actions to remove barriers and strengthen SNAP have helped many people access and afford food.

Indications that food insecurity is beginning to decline, with SNAP possibly having a role, brings urgency to our research to measure SNAP awareness, understand the perceptions that may impact a person’s willingness to enroll in the program, and learn about the experiences of residents when using SNAP benefits.

Explore our research findings, released August 2021, informing our recommendations to dismantle any barriers that persist between those eligible but not enrolled, that may contribute to SNAP’s underutilization.