Food insecurity in New Hampshire has increased by over 40 percent within a year

CONCORD, NH — Food insecurity in New Hampshire has increased by more than 40 percent in one year, according to a new 2024 report from Feeding America.

The report found that 41,000 more people in the state experienced food insecurity in 2022 than in 2021, according to the most recent statistics. That estimate is based on the most recent available data from the Current Population Survey, which is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In New Hampshire, the food insecurity rate rose from 6.8 percent in 2021 to 9.7 percent in 2022. Among children, the food insecurity rate was even higher at 13.4 percent—meaning 33,720 children in the state did not have enough food to live an active, healthy life.

Food insecurity is also highest among residents of Hispanic origin, at around 28 percent, the report says.

The report finds that as pandemic-era programs ended and household spending, including food, increased, food insecurity also increased.

The New Hampshire Food Bank announced Tuesday that it would increase its fundraising efforts to meet increased needs.

“With food insecurity increasing significantly across New Hampshire due to a number of factors including inflation and demographic inequalities, we must meet the needs of our citizens in every part of the state,” said Eileen Liponis, executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank.

“As the state’s only food bank, our mission is to eliminate hunger in the Granite State,” she said.

The New Hampshire Food Bank is launching a 2024 Summer Meals Challenge to help families whose children do not receive free or reduced-price lunch at school. One donor will match contributions of up to $100,000.

A federal program is designed to help families afford meals during the summer, but its fate is still uncertain in New Hampshire. Lawmakers have not yet passed a bill that would cover the state's costs of administering the program, which could bring in about $4.5 million in federal funds. Eligible families could receive $120 per child, or $40 per month, for food if the child is out of school during the summer months.

Laura Milliken, executive director of the nonprofit New Hampshire Hunger Solutions, an anti-hunger advocacy group, said the sharp rise in food insecurity documented in the Feeding America report is consistent with the levels of hunger her organization is seeing.

“People in NH are experiencing severe food insecurity, and families with children are most at risk of food insecurity,” she said.

New Hampshire Hunger Solutions uses data from the U.S. Census Household Pulse, a monthly survey to measure food insecurity. The organization continually releases data that Milliken says provide more timely information.

“This data shows that people are still reporting that they do not have enough to eat,” she said. Data as of April 1, 2024 show that over 40 percent of New Hampshire adults and 54 percent of children lived in food-insufficient households.

“I think the food bank numbers reflect the impact of the end of COVID relief and also the increase in housing, childcare and food costs,” she added.

She said the data also matches what she has heard from the food bank and other food pantries that they are seeing a larger number of people coming to them in need of food.

You can reach Amanda Gokee at Follow her @amanda_gokee.

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