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Discover more about food insecurity, poverty and hunger and their impact on our community through statistics and research on hunger-related issues.


What is Food Insecurity? What is Hunger?

Food is a basic human right. More than simple sustenance, it fuels hope and makes more possible. Only a hunger-free community can truly be healthy.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to adequate, nutritious food. It is the set of circumstances that prevent your access to food.


Hunger is what you feel when you don’t have enough to eat. People who are food insecure struggle to avoid hunger, a more narrow physiological condition.

Who Can Experience Food Insecurity?

The majority of our neighbors facing food insecurity are children, older adults and working families.

For some, hunger is a temporary challenge — caused by a job loss, an illness or other short-term setback. Many Americans are only one paycheck away from facing food insecurity.

For others, it is an ongoing struggle. Other barriers to obtaining food often include unemployment, lack of access to transportation and health problems. These barriers and more can prevent people from obtaining enough food for their entire household.


Chicago and Cook County Hunger Statistics

1 in 4 children in Cook County are at risk of hunger.

The presence of hunger among our neighbors affects us all and diminishes hope. Even one person experiencing hunger is too many.

If you need food, we can help

76.4 M
meals provided across all of our food programs during our 2023 fiscal year
1.9 M
households served by our network of free grocery partners during our 2023 fiscal year
public benefits applications submitted on behalf of our neighbors since 2020

How Does Poverty Affect Food Insecurity?

Poverty and food insecurity are linked – but other factors also prevent consistent access to food.

People with incomes above the federal poverty level income threshold can often still be food insecure. Many food insecure households also do not qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs.

Explore our interactive map to learn about food insecurity in chicago and cook county


Racial Inequity Significantly Impacts Food Insecurity

Poverty and hunger have always affected people of color disproportionately.

For generations, systemic inequities and racial injustice have led to disproportionate rates of poverty and food insecurity among our Black and Latino neighbors. The pandemic and its economic fallout, including decades-high inflation and a shrinking federal safety net, have worsened these disparities for people of color.

To end hunger and ensure food equity, we must take on systemic inequity and structural racism.

We Must Come Together To Help End Hunger in Chicago and Cook County

Together, we connect our neighbors with healthy food, lift our voices and advance solutions that address the root causes of hunger—poverty, systemic inequity and structural racism.


Learn How Food Insecurity Affects Our Community

Read our research on hunger and related issues.

Additional Resources

Our Story

How We’re Helping End Hunger in Chicago

The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, started with one purpose – to nourish our neighbors at risk of hunger. And as the needs of our neighbors have evolved, so have we.

Our work against hunger and for food equity has expanded to address the issues that cause food insecurity, poverty, and hunger. To achieve our mission, we work in partnership with a network of community-based organizations and individuals. Together, we connect our neighbors with healthy food, lift our voices and advance solutions that address the root causes of hunger – poverty, systemic inequity, and structural racism. Together, we are greater. Together, we can end hunger.

A group of neighbors gathered together at a food bank.
Together We Are Greater
Together We Are Greater


Read Stories of How Our Network is Helping to End Hunger

Hear from your neighbors to find out how hunger affects our communities and how we can join together to change the world starting right here in Chicago.

Read More Stories

No One Should Experience Food Insecurity

Whether you need help finding food today or are ready to lend help to someone else, we’re here to connect, help and inspire with food insecurity resources.

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