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To Mark President Obama’s Visit to New York, NYCCAH Launches New “United We Serve” Web Site to Give Americans Concrete, Effective Ways to Help Reduce U.S. Hunger

July 16, 2009

In conjunction with the White House’s “United We Serve Initiative,” the New York City Coalition Against Hunger launched a new website ( http://www.nyccah.org/unitedweserve/index.html) to give all Americans concrete ways to help to fight and end hunger in the United States.

“United We Serve” is a nationwide service initiative led by President Obama that will help meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn.  “United We Serve” aims to grow into a sustained and focused effort to promote service.  This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers and by encouraging volunteers to develop their own service projects.

Rather than asking people to engage in traditional volunteer activities such as sporadically serving food at a soup kitchen or food pantry, NYCCAH’s “United We Serve” website aims to redefine volunteerism by giving people concrete ways that they can effectively help fight and end hunger, including:  Engaging in long-term volunteering, getting involved in policy advocacy, participating in a virtual food drive, and by helping families obtain nutrition benefits.

NYCCAH, which is an umbrella group for the 1,200 food pantries and soup kitchens in New York City, has consistently found that emergency food providers rarely need more volunteers to serve food.  As a United We Serve member, NYCCAH is committed to helping New Yorkers find ways in which they can most effectively use their skills and energy to be most useful to the agencies and to the fight against hunger.

“We are thrilled to be participating in the President’s historic initiative in ways that will have the most concrete impact in reducing hunger,” said Coalition Executive Director Joel Berg.  “The reality is that simply placing more untrained volunteers at food pantries and soup kitchens for short stints or holding additional canned food drives will only make a marginal dent in the soaring hunger and food insecurity in New York City, which, even before the Wall Street downturn, impacted more than 1.3 million city residents. That is why our greatest focus in this effort will be on using volunteers to help struggling New Yorkers obtain the federal nutrition assistance benefits to which they are legally entitled. Even a one percent increase in Food Stamp participation would provide a massive amount of extra food buying power that would dwarf the amount of food that could be provided by hundreds of charitable food drives. Using citizen volunteers to increase the use of highly effective government programs is a perfect public/private partnership.”

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