We can’t help but agree with Shirley Sagawa, author of “The American Way to Change”, on why conservatives in Congress should rethink cuts to AmeriCorps. Follow the link to read her full article.
In NYCCAH’s most recent hunger survey, “Hungry New Yorkers Barely Hang On: As Demand for Food at NYC Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens Continues to Soar, Greater Hunger Catastrophe Avoided by Federal Aid from Stimuulus Bill and Food Stamps”, service providers reported a 6.8 percent increase in demand for food pantries and soup kitchens in 2010, on top of a 20.8 increase in 2009. Also 51.4 percent of agencies reported they were not able to meet the demand for their services. Read more here – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/29/opinion/29blow.html?_r=1&scp=8&sq=Charles%20M.%20Blow&st=cse
On February 16, 2011, NYCCAH’s Executive Director, Joel Berg will speak at a forum sponsored by the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the forum is to discuss how individual states can use action plans to effectively administer federally-funded nutrition programs and tackle issues that arise as a result of food insecurity. To learn more, follow the link. http://www.americanprogress.org/events/2011/02/hunger.html
Top federal and local officials joined with national and Philadelphia-based non-profit groups at City Hall to swear-in forty-six members of the new national Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, an AmeriCorps VISTA project which will build the capacities of nonprofit organizations in 18 states at nearly 30 sites to enable more eligible individuals and families to fight hunger while also empowering them to achieve long-term financial security.
The program is being led by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH), a non-profit organization, and funded jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in combination with additional support from the Walmart Foundation, this unique public-private partnership is aimed at reducing the hunger and food insecurity faced by 50 million Americans.
“Walmart has committed $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger, but we know that this serious issue will only be solved if we work together – government, nonprofits and the private sector,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “That’s exactly why we are supporting the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps and its efforts to reduce hunger rates in this country.”
“In this nation of plenty, it is unacceptable that millions of children still go to bed not knowing if there will be food for their next meal,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds AmeriCorps and a senior member of the subcommittee that funds the USDA. “The Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps is a win-win – it will play an important role in the fight against hunger, while helping young people build leadership skills and pay off school debt.”
Two of the VISTAs will work the whole year in Philadelphia, sponsored by the local groups Philabundance and the Campaign for Working Families. According to recent data collected by the Gallup organization and released by the Food Research and Action Center, Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, centered in Philadelphia, has the second highest rate of food hardship out of the nation’s 435 Congressional districts.
“The financial crisis is creating more need in communities while simultaneously reducing the resources available to nonprofits to help,” said Khadijah Jones, director of the Campaign for Working Families. “Deploying a team of VISTAs with a focus on anti-hunger initiatives is an effective strategy to overcome these hurdles. We are a grateful partner.”
“This is a remarkable opportunity for us to bolster our program support while strengthening ties with hunger relief and advocacy organizations across the country, like the New York City Coalition Against Hunger,” said George Matysik of Philabundance. “Our organization has hosted VISTAs for several years, and we find their work ethic and innovation to be contagious throughout the organization. VISTAs bring an inherent attitude that they can change the world one neighborhood at a time – something Philabundance strongly endorses.”
Michael A. Nutter, the Mayor of Philadelphia, Kevin Concannon, the USDA Undersecretary who is the chief anti-hunger official in the Obama Administration, Paul Davis, the acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA, and Joel Berg, the Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger swore in the new VISTAs at City Hall today.
“AmeriCorps VISTA members live and serve in some of our nation’s poorest urban and rural areas,” said Mayor Nutter. “With passion, commitment, and hard work, they work to help individuals and families rise out of poverty. I am excited that the City of Philadelphia was chosen to host the swearing-in ceremony of the 2011 class of VISTA volunteers, and I wish them great success as they volunteer their time, energy, and talents in the coming year in cities and towns across the nation.”
“Increasing access to nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable populations is a top priority of the Obama Administration,” said USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Kevin Concannon. “We are committed to working with our partners at the federal, state and local level, as together we help millions of families in need.”
“For more than 45 years, VISTA has been in communities working to improve the lives of millions of the most vulnerable Americans,” said Paul Davis, Acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. “This cross-agency collaboration with USDA will prove instrumental in helping individuals and families get on the path to economic stability and build stronger communities.”
“The AmeriCorps VISTA program is a perfect tool to fight hunger and improve nutrition,” said NYCCAH’s Joel Berg. “We are grateful that this new public-private partnership will cost-effectively aid the ability of grassroots nonprofit groups in 18 states to increase their capacity to enable eligible families to access the federal nutrition assistance benefits that they need to avoid hunger and improve their diets. We are extraordinarily grateful to the Obama Administration and Mayor Nutter for this tremendous federal and local support.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov. AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) taps the skills, talents, and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA members are assigned full-time for one year at nonprofit community organizations with the goal of building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of programs that provide low-income Americans with the skills and resources needed to break the cycle of poverty.
On Tuesday, January 4th, NYCCAH hosted a ceremony for many of our most dedicated Food Action Board (FAB) Members.The FABs are political engagement groups that meet every two weeks for training on advocacy and hunger issues. The goal of the FABs is to bring the voices of people facing food insecurity back into the public policy dialogue around hunger.
Tuesday was a fabulous night to celebrate all the accomplishments our members have made- from calling their Congressman for the first time to talking with press, the FAB members have come along way. Over the past year NYCCAH has offered a variety of trainings, geared at leadership and activism, including Public Speaking 101, Civics: How a Bill Becomes a Law, Computer Basics, Communication Techniques, etc.
NYCCAH organizers plan to offer the same set of ten trainings to new Action Board members, and these trained FAB members will go on to do more extensive projects and trainings. NYCCAH community organizers run the meetings at 5 food pantries and soup kitchens in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
Congratulations to all of these FAB members:
Alex, Angel, Barbara, Cynthia, Desi, Edasun, Frank, Geraldine, Gloria, Imani, Jose, Joseph, Lynda, Mark, Martha, Myra, Patricia, Phillip, Rollie, Yolanda, and Yvonne.
Long Island City woman struggles to get meals
By Joe Anuta
Thursday, December 30, 2010 11:09 AM EST
Patricia Seino stands in front of Hour Children Food Pantry, where she collects food and volunteers. Photo by Joe Anuta
Patricia Seino has been surviving off of social safety net programs for the last 11 years, but not by choice.
Most days, she can be found at Hour Children, 36-11 12th St., a food pantry in Long Island City where she collects food for her family and volunteers her time.
She grew up in the area and has rarely ventured outside the neighborhood’s boundaries. Seino is 44 years old and lives with her father and son. Her troubles began in 1999, when she was diagnosed with depression. Constant hospital visits and medication prevented her from getting a job, especially after the economic downturn.
“I left the hospital, but then you become an outpatient. Every day it’s a new medication,” she said. “Some people are too sick to keep a steady job.”
It also had adverse affects on her family life.
“It was stressful, and stressed my relationship with my son,” she said.
Seino said it was hard to speak openly with her family about it.
“Mental health is a complicated thing,” she said. “Not many people want to talk about it.”
Despite the diagnosis, Seino has carved out a life that has been manageable, but devoid of frills. She lives in a rent-controlled apartment and takes care of her ailing father while supporting her 26-year old son, whom she had when she was 18.
For her illness, she receives a monthly disability allowance of $847 from the federal government, which is gone within days of arriving. Her budget is grimly spartan. She pays her rent, transportation costs and her phone bill, and then the money is gone.
“It’s all can afford. I’m always broke,” she said. “I hate being broke.”
Her father helps clean the apartment, which he rarely leaves. That means that Seino has to deal with social workers who she said scrutinize her life before giving out the aid that keeps her
and her family alive.
“They pick you apart and it’s unfair,” she said, “Personal information needs to be personal.”
Seino makes a daily trip to food pantries in the neighborhood, which she said “take a big chunk out of being poor.”
But pantries like Hour Children have provided her with more than just nourishment: it has also illuminated a career path.
Seino has been volunteering regularly at the pantry for years and seeing how crucial the service is for the community has motivated her to pursue a career in social service. In addition to food pantries, she volunteered in a neonatal unit at a hospital.
She recently completed a 500-hour course through the International Center for the Disabled, where she studied about human service while helping the elderly. She has recently interviewed for a position with the Red Cross.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “It’s a chance to put my skills to use.”
Seino said that despite a tough 10 years she is hopeful about the next decade. She pictures herself a college graduate and working full time in the health or social service sector.
She wants to begin studying at a program offered through the Center for Substance Abuse, which begins on Feb. 13.
But that hardly makes the present any easier. She has to apply for loans and grants through the program since she can’t afford to enroll on her own, and so yet again her life hangs in the balance.
“I wish I were working, I wish I were in school,” she said. “Feb. 13 is a long way away.”
“I have to keep a sense of humor about it,” she said with a weary yet determined smile. “There’s so much I could worry about. But this smile is still going to be here tomorrow.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
Our report shows that while food pantries and soup kitchens experienced an increase in demand for food over the past year, the situation could have been much worse without the stimulus package and the surge in enrollment in the national Food Stamp Program (SNAP). Read the report here: http://www.nyccah.org/2010AnnualHungerSurvey
Press coverage includes this piece from NY1:
Report: City’s Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens Cope With Higher Demands
Updated 11/23/2010 02:10 PM
A new report by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger says hunger continues to be a growing problem here in the city, with families, the elderly and children especially at risk. NY1’s Tina Redwine filed the following report.
According to a new study by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, demand at New York City’s more than 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens increased about 7 percent this year, on top of the 20-percent increase in 2009.
“There’s been no recovery for hungry New Yorkers,” said New York City Coalition Against Hunger Director Joel Berg. “The stock market has been going through the roof. Hungry New Yorkers are still flocking in record numbers to soup kitchens and food pantries.”
According to the survey, demand for food increased by at least nearly 75 percent of responding agencies in all boroughs.
Staten Island was the hardest hit, with 100 percent of the borough’s responding agencies saying they saw an increase in demands.
In Brooklyn, 90.9 percent of agencies saw an increased demand for food, followed by 89.4 percent in Queens, 84.8 percent in Manhattan and 74 percent in the Bronx.
At the same time, the same food pantries and soup kitchens on Staten Island reported not having enough food to meet the increased demand.
“Staten Island is the best example of the disappearing middle class in New York. If even Staten Islanders can’t afford enough food, no wonder we have this problem citywide,” said Berg.
Captain Libaniel Urbina, who runs the food pantry at the Salvation Army on Broad Street in Staten Island, says his facility needs help to get through the holiday season.
“We are in desperate need of food. If you can look around here, we have at least enough for this week or the next week, but then we’ll need more,” he said.
Food charities also said they saw even more needy families this year along with the elderly.
According to the coalition, as of September, 200,000 more people received SNAP/food stamps benefits as compared to last year, bringing the total number of New Yorkers in the program to 1.7 million.
Those fighting hunger hope New Yorkers will volunteer their time and money this holiday season.
“This is a time to be together and help each other, for one reason — the community, our community,” said Urbina.
For more coverage, see:
Epoch Times: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/46418/
IPS (Spanish): http://www.ipsnoticias.net/nota.asp?idnews=96963
DeWereldMorgen.be (German): http://www.dewereldmorgen.be/artikels/2010/11/25/honger-lijden-op-thanksgiving