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Record Number of City Agencies Running Out of Food

December 1, 2008

A sharp increase in demand at soup kitchens and food pantries across the City combined with drastic funding cuts led to widespread shortages at emergency food programs in the past year. 68.8% of agencies reported they did not have enough food to meet the demand of their clients in 2008—up from 59% in 2007.

NYCCAH’s 2008 Hunger Survey, entitled No Bailout for the Hungry: Funding Slashed to Emergency Food Providers as Hunger in NYC Continues to Soar, also showed a 20% rise in the number of meals served by soup kitchens and food pantries in the last year, with many agencies reporting an increase in the number of seniors, immigrants and families with children served. Despite the growing demand, 72.3% of agencies reported a drop in government funding in the past year.

“Funding has been dwindling for years but I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Christy Robb, Director of Community Outreach and Food Pantry at Hour Children in Long Island City. “In general to deal with higher demand, higher costs, and decreasing resources we have been steadily decreasing the amounts given and request that participants, except elderly and disabled, limit their participation to three times a month.”

Agencies across the city are looking to the new Presidential administration to fulfill its promise of expand funding for soup kitchens and food pantries and increasing the food buying power of low-income Americans. “The bad news is that we have more agencies than ever running out of food. The hunger situation which was truly awful in 2007 has now reached crisis proportions,” said NYCCAH Executive Director Joel Berg. “The good news is that the next President and Congress have a great opportunity to rapidly reverse these trends by strengthening the nutrition safety net and creating living wage jobs.”

Following the release of the 2008 data, legislators across the city and state reiterated the need to expand food stamp access by ending the City policy of finger-imaging food stamp applicants; to dedicate more funding for emergency food programs; and to provide New Yorkers with a living wage so that they will be able to purchase the food they need.

“New Yorkers in all five boroughs have felt the alarming rise in the cost of food in both their stomachs and wallets,” said Councilman Eric Gioia. “Eradicating hunger in New York City is a moral issue. The problem of hunger in New York City is a problem that all New Yorkers should care about- and one that we have the obligation to eliminate.”

To download a PDF of the full survey report, click here. For media coverage related to the 2008 Hunger Survey, visit NYCCAH’s media page.

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