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Many New Yorkers Still Going Hungry

In 2013-2015, 46 percent of food-insecure New Yorkers were also working. (USDA)
In 2013-2015, 46 percent of food-insecure New Yorkers were also working. (USDA)
November 29, 2016

NEW YORK – An annual survey of demand at soup kitchens and food pantries across New York finds food insecurity has increased, including among people who have jobs. Right now, a full-time, minimum-wage worker with two children in New York earns an income below the federal poverty level.

According to Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, nearly half of all working-age residents of New York City and state who can't afford to buy enough food live in households that include at least one working person.

"We know the minimum-wage hikes that are going to go into effect over the next few years are going to help, but we're still facing an epidemic of working hungry families," he said.

The survey found from 2013 to 2015, one in seven children statewide and one in five in New York City lived in households that couldn't afford enough to eat.

Berg said food-pantry and soup-kitchen use has increased every year since 2008, including a nine-percent increase this year, and more than a third of those facilities don't have enough resources to meet the need.

"That's why we're urging President-elect Trump to actually commit to ending hunger in America by creating jobs, raising wages and ensuring an adequate nutrition-assistance safety net," he explained.

Voters in four states passed minimum-wage increases in this month's general election, but some business interests contend they will cut into their profits and lead to lost jobs.

And Berg has serious concerns for the future. He noted that House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed cutting food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, by as much as $23 billion.

"If he succeeds in cutting the food-stamp SNAP program by anything close to the levels he's suggested, you're really going to start seeing Third-World-style malnutrition and hunger in New York and America," Berg said. "We must stop it."

There are some signs that hunger may be starting to decline in New York, but that won't be clear until 2016 data is released by the federal government next year.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY