Get Food
Donate Now
Sign up for our
Email Newsletter

Translate this site
English flagSpanish flag
Non-Discrimination Policies

Local Hunger Facts

Local hunger facts

1 in 5 children in Western Massachusetts live in food insecure households.

• More than 235,000 people in Western Massachusetts (that’s one in every eight residents) face hunger.

• Each week, 15,000 of our neighbors seek food assistance from The Food Bank and our 250 member agencies.

• More than 235,000 people in the four counties seek food assistance at Food Bank member agencies

• In some towns in our region, hunger rates are more than six times higher than the statewide average

• Poverty rates in the four counties are: 10.5% (Berkshire), 9.2% (Franklin), 15.1% (Hampden), and 9.7% (Hampshire)

• 27% of the people The Food Bank serves are children and 12% are elderly

Read The Food Bank’s fact sheet (PDF).

Click here for more local, national, and international hunger resources.


Hunger in America 2014: Western Massachusetts Report

Hunger in America 2014 is a research study conducted to capture the significant connection between the current economy and an increased need for emergency food assistance, on a local and national level. The number of children and adults in need of food as a result of experiencing food insecurity has increased by 32 percent nationally since 2010.  Across the country, 49 million people seek emergency food assistance, including 12 million children.

The data are based on surveys conducted at emergency feeding centers, such as meal sites and food pantries, but do not factor in many individuals also served at non-emergency locations in The Food Bank’s network, such as childcare centers and senior centers.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts participated in the Hunger in America study by conducting dozens of client interviews at emergency food sites across Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties.

An estimated 14,600 people receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, meal site, or shelter served by The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Top line Findings for Western Massachusetts

  • • The number of people served through The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ emergency food network has increased by 35% since 2010.
  • • Among all households served through the emergency food network, 79% are food insecure according to the U.S. government’s food security scale, meaning they don’t always know where they will find their next meal.
  • • 44% of all client households have incomes below the federal poverty level.

To read a summary of the local results, download our Fact Sheet for Western Massachusetts.

Read the full Western Massachusetts report. (Note: this is a large file)

Read more about Feeding America’s national results.


Map the Meal Gap

This groundbreaking study provides us, for the first time, with accurate food-insecurity numbers that are broken down to the local level.

Feeding America, the national organization of food banks, discovered that almost 49 million Americans nationwide are food-insecure.  They must turn to charitable food assistance—like that provided by The Food Bank and our member agencies—to make ends meet.

(Click here to see Feeding America’s interactive “Meal Gap” map.)

Through “Map the Meal Gap,” we are able to see, for the first time, what these numbers mean nationally.  In Western Massachusetts, over one-third of our food-insecure neighbors do not qualify for federal assistance.  These hard-working families and individuals reported a food budget shortfall of over $48 million.  They rely on The Food Bank

Below, you can see the ‘Map the Meal Gap’ data for Western Massachusetts.

Berkshire County

Total population: 131,219

Number of food Insecure individuals: 14,200

Food Insecurity Rate: 10.9%

Cost of 1 meal: $3.34

Franklin County

Total population: 71,372

Number of food Insecure individuals: 7,330

Food Insecurity Rate: 10.2%

Cost of 1 meal: $3.17

Hampden County

Total population: 463,490

Number of food Insecure individuals: 58,340

Food Insecurity Rate: 12.6%

Cost of 1 meal: $2.85

Hampshire County

Total population: 158,080

Number of food Insecure individuals: 15,730

Food Insecurity Rate: 9.9%

Cost of 1 meal: $3.21


Food Hardship Data from FRAC

On August 11, 2011, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released the latest data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food.

  • 20 percent of households with children in Massachusetts (1 in 5) said they were unable to afford enough food.
  • The food hardship rate for households without children was 14.4 percent.

Download the complete FRAC Food Hardship in America Report