NH Food Bank combating spike in local food insecurity

The NH Food Bank, headquartered in Manchester, distributes food across the state to food pantries and outreaches. Photo/Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH – With New Hampshire facing a 43.9% statewide increase in food insecurity, the New Hampshire Food Bank is mobilizing efforts to fight back against hunger across the state. Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, food pantries and local meal programs, recently released its “Map the Meal Gap 2024” report, which notes more than 135,200 New Hampshire residents are food insecure—a year-over-year increase of more than 41,000 individuals or 43.9%.

The Feeding America report indicates 9.7% of New Hampshire residents, roughly one in 10 people, experience food insecurity. The report also notes the food insecurity rate for children in New Hampshire has increased to 13.4%, compared to 8.5% the previous year. People are considered food insecure when they do not know when or where their next meal is coming from.

“With food insecurity rising in a significant way throughout New Hampshire due to a number of factors, such as inflation and demographic disparities, we must meet the needs of our residents in every corner of the state,” said Eileen Liponis, Executive Director, New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire. “As the state’s only food bank, it is our mission to eliminate hunger in the Granite State. We are amplifying fundraising and outreach efforts statewide and we are confident that with the continued support of residents, volunteers, businesses and our more than 400 partner agencies, we can reach our goal of ending hunger in the Granite State.”

As part of its efforts to combat rising food insecurity, the New Hampshire Food Bank is launching its 2024 Summer Meals Challenge to provide critical support to New Hampshire families in need. With summer quickly approaching, children who utilize free and reduced price school meals will no longer be able to access that service. The Food Bank is asking residents and businesses to participate in its 2024 Summer Meals Challenge to provide critical support to New Hampshire families. A generous donor will match every gift up to $100,000, doubling each donation for a limited time.

Additionally, next month on June 12, the Food Bank will be participating in NH Gives, the state’s largest online fundraiser benefiting nonprofits. In 2023, 613 nonprofits, including the Food Bank, participated, with the Food Bank raising close to $23,000.00 in just 24 hours.

Along with distributing food to more than 400 partner agencies statewide, the New Hampshire Food Bank provides an array of programming and services designed to address the root causes of hunger under their Recipe for Success Programs, including Cooking Matters NH, free Culinary Job Training, Fresh Rescue Program, Nutrition Pantry Program, a Production Garden, and NH Feeding NH. The New Hampshire Food Bank also hosts weekly mobile food pantries across the state, bringing nutritious food to those in need directly in their communities.

Just last month, the New Hampshire Food Bank held its 8th Annual Steel Chef Challenge, which was hosted by celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson. One of its marquee fundraising events, the Steel Chef Challenge raised a net total of $183,000, equating to approximately 285,938 meals, through ticket and auction item sales to help fight food insecurity statewide.

The state’s food insecurity numbers remain highest in Coös County, where an estimated 13.3% of the population experiences food insecurity. To provide more direct support in the North Country, the New Hampshire Food Bank will soon open a warehouse space in Berlin. The space can hold up to 20,000 pounds of shelf-stable food and also includes a freezer and a refrigerator for holding fresh produce, meats and dairy products.

The following statistics reflect New Hampshire food insecurity numbers by county, according to the Feeding America report:

  • Belknap – Overall: 10.6%; Child: 16.1%
  • Carroll – Overall: 10.4%; Child: 17.1%
  • Cheshire – Overall: 10.7%; Child: 15.9%
  • Coös – Overall: 13.3%; Child: 21.1%
  • Grafton – Overall: 10.7%; Child: 16.1%
  • Hillsborough – Overall: 9.5%; Child: 14.1%
  • Merrimack – Overall: 9.8%; Child: 13.8%
  • Rockingham – Overall: 8.1%; Child: 10.7%
  • Strafford – Overall: 10.3%; Child: 13.5%
  • Sullivan – Overall: 11.7%; Child: 17%

In partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the New Hampshire Food Bank has strategically amplified outreach efforts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure all eligible residents have access to SNAP benefits and resources.

The New Hampshire Food Bank distributes nutritious food and resources to New Hampshire residents in need. In 2023, as the state’s only Food Bank, the New Hampshire Food Bank procured and provided more than 16 million pounds of non-perishable food items, fresh produce and meats to more than 400 nonprofit food agencies in all corners of New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Food Bank is asking individuals and businesses to consider donating some of its “Most Needed Items” and to participate in its variety of programming and events, such as food drives happening throughout the state. Residents can also help support the Food Bank’s mission by making monetary donations, as the Food Bank is purchasing 32% of the food it distributes. For every $1 donated, 95 cents support the Food Bank’s programming. Additionally, the New Hampshire Food Bank welcomes volunteers to support its efforts.

About the New Hampshire Food Bank
The New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire, has been working to relieve hunger in the Granite State since 1984. In 2023, as the state’s only Food Bank, the New Hampshire Food Bank efficiently procured and distributed more than 16 million pounds of food to people in need through more than 400 non-profit registered agencies. Agencies include food pantries, neighborhood centers, low-income housing sites, senior nutrition centers, family crisis centers, hospices, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after school programs and day care centers. For more information about the New Hampshire Food Bank, please visit www.nhfoodbank.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.