The Crisis of the Empty Plate: Hunger in NYC

Nevin Cohen, Michael Ottley, Kate MacKenzie, Rozanne Gold speaking on a panel at Gotham on a Plate

Nevin Cohen, Michael Ottley, Kate MacKenzie and Rozanne Gold speak on hunger in NYC at the New School’s Gotham on a Plate conference, Co-Sponsored by Culinest

We live in a time of unprecedented food bounty. Yet importantly, even at this time of incredible diversity and excitement in food, 40% of food in the US is wasted, and 25% NYC children don’t know when they’re going to get their next meal at home.

A panel on ‘The Crisis of the Empty Plate’, at the New School’s Gotham on a Plate conference, which Culinest proudly Co-Sponsored, was an important reminder of the hunger that is still, sadly, a day-to-day reality for so many people in NYC and beyond.

Here are some of the startling and eye-opening facts that were shared, and thoughts on how to help:

Hunger and Waste

  • 1 in 5 people in NYC are on food stamps
  • 1 in 4 children in NYC are food insecure.
  • 40% of food produced in the US is wasted.
  • “In 2012 there wasn’t enough food on any day – every day was an emergency.” – Kate MacKenzie, City Harvest

Vulnerable Infrastructure

  • 95% of NY’s food comes over the George Washington Bridge.
  • 75% of food retail in NYC will be in a flood plain by 2050.

Solving Hunger

“The purpose of emergency food providers is to feed people every day, not in a disaster. A truly resilient city shouldn’t need any emergency food providers.

But food alone isn’t going to solve hunger.

We need to go beyond the story of feeding people tonight to bigger questions – to help connect the dots: what we eat depends on the climate, the social fabric of communities. It’s a hard story, but one we have to tell.”
– Kate MacKenzie



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