Three recent national reports look at the issue of hunger in America from various perspectives. Our analysis of these data sets reveals that, despite an improving economy, hunger remains a persistent and prevalent challenge in New York State.

These reports collectively underscore the need for continued expansion of and improved access to federal nutrition programs including SNAP, school meals and summer meals in New York State.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Household Food Security in the United States in 2015 report shows slightly fewer New Yorkers struggled with hunger in 2015, but New York’s food insecurity rate remains stagnant compared to the significant drop seen in other largely populated states. The report estimates that New York’s food insecurity rate dropped from 14.4 percent in 2014 to 14.1 percent in 2015, compared with a 1.3 percentage point drop nationwide. Nationally, only 59 percent of food insecure people reported receiving assistance from our nation’s fundamental nutrition assistance programs.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)’s Food Hardship in America: Households with Children Especially Hard Hit report reveals that far too many New York State residents — especially children — still live in households that struggle against hunger. Derived from an analysis of Gallup-Healthways Well-Being surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015, the report finds 19.2 percent of households with children suffer from food hardship nationally. In New York State, that percentage is even higher: 21.4 percent.

The U.S. household median income rose and the poverty rate fell – both significantly – from 2014 to 2015, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data on income, poverty and health insurance. However, the number of hungry New York State residents remains high. FRAC’s analysis of the census data reveals that in 2015, there were more than 2.9 million New Yorkers living in poverty; more than 900,000 of them were children. The Bureau’s analysis of the Supplementary Poverty Measure continues to demonstrate how SNAP lifts many people out of poverty: children, adults and seniors alike.