State of Hunger in New Haven: Report on Food Insecurity and Recommendations for Action 2017-2018


New Haven is a diverse city with deep and enduring economic and social disparities. Approximately 25% of residents live in poverty, compared to 10% statewide. An additional 40% struggle to afford basic necessities like housing and food. While intricately tied, poverty is just one of several issues that drives hunger. Unemployment, low-wage jobs, transportation, and family resources also make it difficult for people to access the food they need to thrive.

Across New Haven, 22% of the city’s residents are food insecure – with not enough food or money to buy food – much higher than the Connecticut rate of 12% and national rates of 13%. Food insecurity varies widely in New Haven, affecting low-income people of color at higher rates. In two recent studies in New Haven – DataHaven's Wellbeing Survey and CARE’s New Haven Health Survey, both conducted in 2015 – food insecurity impacts 1 in 3 adults in the city’s lowest income neighborhoods. Within these neighborhoods, food insecurity is notably high among those not employed at 41.3% and underemployed (working part-time but wanting full-time employment) at 53.9% compared to 18.9% among those employed with a full-time job. Hispanic and Latinx communities in New Haven bear the greatest burden of food insecurity. Compared to other demographic groups, both DataHaven and CARE reported higher food insecurity among Latinx residents: across New Haven at 34% and among those in the six lowest-income neighborhoods at 50.1%. Rates of hunger are highest in neighborhoods with larger Latinx populations, like Fair Haven. Future data collection efforts should better capture food insecurity among undocumented residents. Undocumented residents may be particularly vulnerable, because they often work in low-paying jobs, are ineligible for government assistance programs, and may be afraid to go to emergency food providers due to anti-immigration policies.

This report was written by Alycia Santilli, MSW, Director, CARE Kathleen O’Connor Duffany, PhD, Director of Research and Evaluation, CARE with contributions from Mark Abraham, DataHaven Billy Bromage, Connecticut Mental Health Center Austin Bryniarski, Yale Sustainable Food Program Grace Carroll, Yale School of Public Health Peggy Gallup, Southern Connecticut State University Joy Johannes, City of New Haven Maria Markham, Connecticut Food Bank John McDougall, Yale School of Medicine Victoria Zigmont, Southern Connecticut State University.