Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Hunger Facts

Facts on Hunger, Food Assistance, Poverty and Income in Our Service Area 

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank provides food and non-food items to more than 700 programs in our six county service area, consisting of Ashland, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Richland Counties.

Food Insecurity 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies households as food insecure if they experience, at some times during the year, limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.  A food insecure household does not have access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.  

  • One in six residents from our six county service area was food insecure in 2012 (17.1%).  That’s a total of 320,940 people.
  • More than one in five children from our service area lived in a food insecure household in 2012 (22.7%).  That’s more than 97,000 children.
  • Cuyahoga County had the highest number of food insecure residents in the state of Ohio in 2012, at approximately 238,530 individuals.  Cuyahoga County was also home to the largest number of food insecure children in the state of Ohio, at 64,800 children.

Want to see what hunger looks like in your area?  Click here to see where we get this information and how many meals went missing in your community in 2012.

Food Assistance
(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a federal nutrition assistance program that provides assistance to eligible, low-income households who need help supplementing their monthly food budget.  SNAP recipients are able to purchase nutritious food at grocery stores with the monthly benefits they receive.  Currently it is the largest federal program fighting hunger, with more than 47 million Americans enrolled in SNAP.

  • SNAP benefits lifted 4 million Americans above the poverty line in 2012, according to the Current Population Survey.

Want to learn about more safety net programs that kept Americans out of poverty in 2012?  Click here to explore the Supplemental Poverty Measure and learn about federal programs that have a proven record of poverty alleviation.

Want to learn more about unemployment and SNAP participation?  Click here to explore local unemployment data or here to explore national and state SNAP participation numbers.

  • In 2012 half of Ohio households receiving SNAP benefits (50.7%) contained children under 18.
  • The median income for an Ohio household receiving SNAP benefits in 2012 was $15,961, compared to $53,671 for a household not receiving SNAP benefits.
  • 38% of food assistance recipients in Cuyahoga County lived in a suburban area in March 2014 (the last month for which data are available).

Want to learn more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program?  Click here to read more about households that receive SNAP benefits across the United States or click here if you or someone you know is struggling to pay for food.

Poverty and Income

In 2012 the poverty threshold (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau) for a family of four was $23,492 for one year.  The national median household income in 2012 was $51,017, remaining the same as in 2011.

  • Between the years of 2010 and 2012 in our six county service area, more than 300,000 people lived in poverty.
  • More than 3.9 million Ohioans lived below 200% of poverty in 2012, equaling more than 1 in 3 Ohioans (34.8%).  This was an increase of more than 500,000 Ohioans from 2007, or an increase of 15.6%.
  • From the first year of the recession in 2008 until 2012, Ohio’s median household income decreased from $50,790 to $46,829.

Want to learn more about poverty and income in your area?  Click here to explore poverty, income, and general population statistics for your community.

  • In order to afford the 2014 Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ohio ($720) without spending more than 30% of gross income on housing costs, a worker earning minimum wage must work 70 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.  This is the equivalent of 1.7 minimum wage jobs.

Child Poverty

In 2012 national poverty rates among children remained significantly higher than any other age group at 21.8%, with poverty among adults aged 18-64 at 13.7% and poverty among seniors at 9.1%.  In our service area more than 104,000 children (25.3%) lived in poverty.

  • In 2012 more than half of Cleveland children (52.6%) lived below poverty, while more than four in five (81.8%) lived below 200% of poverty.
  • In 2012 more than one in four Cuyahoga County children lived in poverty (26.9%), while almost half of children lived below 200% of poverty (49%).
  • In 2012 more than one in five children across the United States (21.8%) lived in poverty, while almost half of American children lived below 200% of poverty (45.1%).
  • More children lived in poverty in Ohio’s suburbs and rural areas in 2012 than in Ohio’s central cities (359,554 children in rural and suburban areas compared to 261,367 in central cities).
  • Ohio’s central cities had the second highest child poverty rate of the 50 states and D.C., with a central city child poverty rate of 42.8%.  The only state with a higher central city poverty rate was Mississippi, at 45.7%.
  • In 2013 only 1 in 11 Ohio children (8.8%) who received lunch assistance through the National School Lunch Program during the school year also received summer food assistance through the Summer Food Service Program.  In comparison, the national average was 1 in 6 children (16.2%).

Want to learn more about child poverty and well-being in Ohio?  Click here to explore child well-being indicators in Ohio or click here to learn how the Greater Cleveland Food Bank is working to alleviate child hunger in our community. 


Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap 2014: Food Insecurity and Child Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level, by Gunderson, C., E. Engelhard, A. Satoh, & E. Waxman, 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012, by Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette Proctor, and Jessica Smith, September 17, 2013, p. 21.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Public Assistance Monthly Statistics: State Fiscal Year 2007, p. 26.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Public Assistance Monthly Statistics: State Fiscal Year 2012, p. 30.

Regional and State Unemployment (Annual) 2007-2012, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, (November 11, 2013).

U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey: 1 Year Estimate, Tables S2201, C17024, and DP03, September 19, 2013.

Feeding America, analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Program Data for FY2013, 2014.

Cuyahoga Job and Family Services, Health and Human Services, 1st Quarter 2014 Benefits Based Report, 2014, p. 12. (Refers to March 2014 data).

U.S. Census Bureau, 2010-2012 American Community Survey: 3 Year Estimates, Table S1701, November 14, 2013.

Althea Arnold, Sheila Crowley, Elina Bravve, Sarah Brundage, and Christine Biddlecombe, “Out of Reach 2014,” National Low Income Housing Coalition, March 2014.

Marybeth Mattingly, Jessica Carson, and Andrew Schaefer, “2012 National Child Poverty Rate Stagnates at 22.6 Percent,” Carsey Institute, September 20, 2013.