The Epoch Times reports on the release of the ninth annual hunger survey report by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH). The survey, titled "Hungry New Yorkers Barely Hang On" shows that demand at New York City food pantries and soup kitchens increased by 6.8 percent in 2010, on top of a 20.8 percent increase in 2009. Based on the resumes, we are told what many already knew -- the need is great.
According to the report, 51.4 percent of soup kitchens and pantries in the city did not have enough resources to meet demand. Joel Berg of NYCCAH said,
"No one is celebrating that in the richest city in the history of the world, with 58 billionaires, half of the charitable organizations have to turn people away."
He added, "While there is increasing hunger in New York City, the only reason we're not experiencing a full-blown catastrophe is [that] federal programs, as implemented by the state, are working as designed.
It is thanks to this great increase of federal funding for anti-hunger programs from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and higher rates of enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that many more were able to avoid hunger. The number of New Yorkers receiving SNAP benefits rose from 200,000 in June 2009 to 1.7 million in September 2010, though many more low-income individuals are eligible.
Though SNAP had been hugely important at helping millions afford food, advocates are calling for changes to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of the program. By limiting the obstacles to receiving SNAP benefits, more eligible Americans can receive assistance.
NYCCAH released a number of policy recommendations pertaining to SNAP, which include simplifying the application process, eliminating requirements which prevent many jobless adults from receiving assistance during a time of record unemployment and removing restrictions which currently require legal immigrants to wait five years to apply.
Congressman Anthony Wiener proposed soup kitchens have tables available for those seeking assistance to sign up for SNAP. He has also called for grants to increase SNAP participation in cities where 85 percent or fewer eligible citizens receive SNAP benefits, the Epoch Times reports.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has for several years called for an end to fingerprinting SNAP applicants, an anti-fraud measure which is costly, prolongs the application process and has been shown to deter individuals from applying for benefits because of the association of fingerprinting with criminal activity. "Research indicates that fingerprinting deters nearly 30,000 eligible New Yorkers from signing up," Quinn said in a speech this Monday. This was one of 59 proposals that made up Quinn's new FoodWorks plan.
The plan, according to Quinn's website, will focus on combating hunger and obesity to preserving regional farming and local food manufacturing to decreasing waste and energy usage. She also calls for expanded benefits in New York City that reflect the high cost of living.
As Quinn points out, SNAP recipients in New York City are currently expected to feed an entire family on $9 a day.
This piece was written by Shannon Hughes, an intern for Here's Life Inner City. Here’s Life does not endorse the opinions presented in the documents, web sites, etc. we link to, nor do we endorse the organizations to whom we may refer/link to. All material is presented on this blog for the purposes of education and igniting discussion.
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