CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WROC) — Counties across the Finger Lakes have seen food insecurity more than double over the past three years. This is according to a study done by a non-profit in Canandaigua.

Out of 1100 people surveyed in Ontario, Livingston, Yates, Wayne, Seneca, and other neighboring counties, Pivital Public Health Partnership discovered 61% of those households are unable to always keep food on the table. If this trend continues, the public health of the Finger Lakes could be in danger. 

Since 2006, Pastor Jeffrey Lippincott has helped lead Canandaigua Churches in Action’s food pantry. As the Pandemic died down, they’ve picked back up to serving about 250 families each month, plus elderly residents in need.  

“They’ll actually pick the foods that they want,” Pastor Lippincott explained. “We have a volunteer inside the room that actually goes around with a shopping cart and goes around to each location and allows them to pick anything from vegetables, canned goods, cereals, pasta products.”   

When these new families come in, Pastor Lippincott says there are a variety of reasons for putting them in this situation.   

“Families at one time had both the husband and wife worked but now one of them has lost their job or had hours cut,” Pastor Lippincott continued. “Funding through Snap or the child tax credit also recently stopped. So, they had less money to buy their food and the cost of food is always increasing.” 

Pivital Public Health Partnership also discovered a lack of cooking skills and time to prepare meals, not knowing what foods are the best to eat, and fewer grocery stores near their homes also contributed to 61% of participants experiencing food insecurity.  

“There was a quarter of respondents that said they didn’t know that the community offers nutrition services or healthy eating resources,” Pivital Public Health Partnership Program Manager Jennifer Hatch said. “So, we’re trying to improve the promotion of food voucher programs, cooking and nutrition classes, where you can find your community garden.”  

Pivital Public Health Partnership explained they’re now partnering with county health departments to expand those options for families in order to prevent the public’s health from suffering long-term effects from food insecurity.  

“Certainly malnutrition, causing diabetes, obesity,” Hatch worried. “Very high cancer rates in our region which could be further down the line.” 

Click below if you would like to donate or learn more about local food pantries and help you get out of food insecurity, contacts for Canandaigua Churches in Action, and Pivital Public Health Partnership

Some positive results from the survey found daily consumption of fruits and vegetables in the Finger Lakes Counties surveyed is up by almost 20% compared to last year. You can also log onto FoodLink’s website to locate their partnering pantries in the 10 counties they serve.