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BANK ON IT: Food Bank For New York City's Blog

Farm Bill Draft Brings Deep Food Stamp Cuts

by Triada Stampas

Last week saw major developments in the Farm Bill, the federal legislation that sets funding and policy for safety net nutrition programs as well as agriculture and conservation programs for a five-year period. The Senate Agriculture Committee voted to approve a draft Farm Bill that would cut $4.5 billion from food stamp (SNAP) benefits.

In New York City, this cut would reduce the monthly SNAP allotments of 190,000 low-income households living in public housing or receiving federal Section 8 housing vouchers. (The average income of a household living in public housing in New York City is less than $23,000.)

New York’s only member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Kirsten Gillibrand, voted against this bill on the grounds that it would harm some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, and will be bringing an amendment to the Senate floor to protect children in SNAP households from cuts that may remain in the final bill.

The Senate Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill draft does make improvements to the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides the main source of food to our city’s soup kitchens and food pantries. The improvements appear significant on first glance – adding $150 million in mandatory funding and giving the federal government explicit authority to purchase additional TEFAP food in response to increases in need. However, TEFAP has already lost $175 million this year. It is clear that, on balance, emergency food providers will be coping with even fewer resources to confront the increased need created by cuts to SNAP.

What happens next? The bill will be brought to the floor of the Senate, where our legislators will have the opportunity to offer additional amendments before they vote on it. The House of Representatives must also develop and approve its version of the Farm Bill; the difference between each chamber’s version must then be reconciled and a consensus proposal adopted.

What can you do?

  1. Call your Senators and Representatives and let them know cuts to SNAP are not acceptable!
  2. Join Mario Batali and take the Food Stamp Challenge to raise awareness about this critical lifeline.
  3. Spread the word to your family, friends and coworkers through Facebook and Twitter.

Triada Stampas works to inform government officials, policy makers and the general public about the needs of the city’s network of emergency food organizations and the more than 1.3 million people who rely on them; and to advance public policy that meets those needs.

Thank You: The Child Tax Credit Is Safe

by Triada Stampas

Three weeks ago, the Food Bank reached out to supporters like you to help save a critical source of support provided by the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to our most vulnerable working families.

In a cynical move to offset the cost of the payroll tax and unemployment insurance extension, the House proposed cutting CTC refunds that benefit low-income, working families who file their taxes with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) rather than Social Security numbers.

Thanks to the actions of advocates like you, Congress protected this critical benefit which, simply put, helps keep food on the table for working families.

Though, in the end, Congress agreed not to require spending cuts to offset the extensions, Congress responded to the need for funding by initiating the auction of public airwaves for wireless Internet systems.

By removing a proposed cut that would have hurt our country’s most vulnerable, working families and identifying a revenue generating initiative that will speed digital communications, Congress has provided a perfect example of a fact that often goes unstated in Washington – we can reduce spending without hurting low-income Americans.

The Food Bank would like to thank our advocates for helping to save the Child Tax Credit! Please take a moment to visit our advocacy page for other actions you can take in support of New Yorkers in need.

Triada Stampas works to inform government officials, policy makers and the general public about the needs of the city’s network of emergency food organizations and the more than 1.3 million people who rely on them; and to advance public policy that meets those needs.

Raising Our Voice, Their Voice – and Your Voice

by David McCoy

In the fight to end hunger in New York City, the Food Bank has a number of amazing resources at our disposal – more than 100 staff with expertise ranging from public policy to elementary-school education, high-profile supporters like Mario Batali who help raise funds and awareness and supporters like you who donate, volunteer and spread the word.With 2.9 million New Yorkers struggling to afford food, we are dedicated to making the most of all of our resources and, right now, the Food Bank is focused on tapping into one of our greatest resources – our citywide network of food assistance programs.

With boots on the ground in every corner of the five boroughs, our network has insights and ideas that could only be gained from working on the frontlines of hunger relief. Collaborating with the network to raise our collective voice – combining the Food Bank's resources with the network's insights – may be one of the best ways to truly affect change, to truly end food poverty. This idea, this direction, is being led by our new President and CEO, Margarette Purvis, and was articulated perfectly at our 20th Annual Agency Conference, where she outlined the way forward. During her address to more than 500 network members and anti-hunger advocates, Margarette spoke about the importance of collaboration in service, how we must view our roles as providers differently, that we must be more strategic about our actions and that Food Bank will be there to help everyone be heard.

This vision will not only help sustain the work we do, but will advance it in new, innovate and responsive ways. When I raise my voice to combat hunger, Food Bank raises its voice, our network raises their multitude of voices, the potential for achieving change is incredible.

David McCoyStay tuned to our blog to learn about achievements of our collaborative approach but, in the meantime, won't you raise your voice too? Share this post on Facebook and tweet your support!

As Agency Resources Coordinator for Food Bank of New York City, David McCoy works to increase the capacity of our network of community-based member programs.

Change One Thing: New Year's Resolutions

With the New Year just a few days away, you have probably already spent some time – or told yourself you’re going to spend some time – thinking about your resolutions for 2012. One of the Food Bank’s central goals is to help build a healthier city through nutrition education – and within the CookShop team, we are resolving to inspire more New Yorkers to Change One Thing and build a healthier lifestyle.

A social marketing campaign that encourages New Yorkers to improve their health by making small changes to their diet, Change One Thing can be a great model for your own resolutions. Rather than resolving to hit the gym four days a week or to kick fried foods once and for all – c’mon, who are you kidding? – why don’t you drink water instead of that daily soda, or pick up some fruit instead of that bag of chips at lunch?

We asked some of our CookShop students and members of the Food Bank network to tell us what they would change in the New Year….

George , CookShop Classroom Student, PS180M

"Instead of eating meat, I would eat carrots. Instead of drinking milk with fat in it, I would drink soy milk. Instead of drinking juice, I would drink water."

Laura Smith, CookShop Classroom Parent Coordinator, PS 47X

“I’d like to exchange my dinner roll with a new vegetable every night .”

Russell, EATWISE peer educator , New Dorp High School

“I’d like to drink water throughout the day and eat vegetables three times a day.”

Marcia, Customer, Food Bank Community Kitchen & Food Pantry

“In the new year I hope to get less meat and more vegetables. I want my whole family to participate. My husband is diabetic and I want to prevent my children from being diabetic too.”

Margarette Purvis, President and CEO, Food Bank For New York City

“Locally grown food is so important. So, in 2012 I'm going to take a stab at gardening. I think I'll start with herbs and tomatoes!”

So how about YOU? What’s your Change One Thing resolution for the new year?

Because of YOU: Happy Holidays!

Cheryl with a carton of fat-free milk from the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen & Food Pantry
Food Bank For New York City is so grateful for everything you do over the holiday season – and so are the 1.5 million New Yorkers who rely on our programs and services. It is because of YOU, our supporters, that the 1 in 5 children who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries in NYC have the nourishment they need to grow healthy and strong. It is because of YOU that veterans returning from overseas will have somewhere to turn if he or she find themselves struggling to afford food.

And it is because of YOU that Cheryl has the below story to share. Please take a moment to read below, and learn what a difference your support truly makes. Thank you!

"October was the first time I came for groceries at the [Community Kitchen & Food Pantry]. I get food stamps, but sometimes it's not enough. It's a help, but when I get to the end of the month, sometimes I need some extra help. So I come here.

The pantry helped me a lot with Thanksgiving. The rice and chicken I picked up at the pantry made the meal. I had a really good holiday because of it.

I think the way they do it here is good. Instead of just picking up a bag, I can pick what I need. It’s just like the supermarket.

Please keep it going. This is so great for the community. It helps a lot of people get by, and I am real thankful that it's here for us."

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us – and So Is Check-Out Hunger!

By Jamee Brody

One of the times I most often think about the New Yorkers who rely on the Food Bank is when I go grocery shopping. I try to clip coupons as much as possible, and do at times feel I have to be vigilant with my food budget and avoid all the treats calling out to me from the snack aisle – but in the end I know that my cupboards will always be full. Too many New Yorkers don’t have that luxury.

That’s why I love the Food Bank’s Check-Out Hunger campaign. From October to January, when you go shopping you’ll find one of the easiest ways to give I’ve ever seen – just look for our Check-Out Hunger placards at the register and have your cashier scan the bar code on our donation slips. A donation will then be added to your bill – and remember, a donation of just $5 helps the Food Bank provide 25 meals to New Yorkers in need. I did mention it’s easy, right?

Last year, Check-Out Hunger raised more than 850,000 meals for New Yorkers in need with the support of more than a dozen supermarkets including ShopRite, Foodtown and Fairway. This year, I am excited to see what we can achieve with specialty retailers Fishs Eddy and Eataly joining our supermarket partners to help our most vulnerable neighbors.

And thanks to Eataly, Check-Out Hunger isn’t just at the check-out line – it’s online. The 'Eataly for the Food Bank For New York City' campaign gives online shoppers a chance to donate to the Food Bank while shopping for delicious Italian goodies. So while you are at getting the perfect Italian inspired gift box for the 'Italian' cook in your family you can also add to your shopping cart '25 meals for a child in need'. I hope with the support of follower New Yorkers and nearly 200 participating specialty/supermarkets stores to have another successful Check-Out Hunger year.

Visit and shop 'gift boxes' and add to your cart a gift for New Yorkers in need.

To find a participating Check-Out Hunger location near you please visit

Irene Relief: Forecasting Danger for Hunger Relief?

By Daniel Buckley

Earlier this month, when one of the worst storms in recent history laid waste to large swaths of land from Virginia to Vermont, thousands of families were dislocated, experienced flood damage or lost power for several days. Some Congress Members, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, suggested that disaster aid distributed by the government should be offset by an equal amount of federal spending cuts.

You may be asking what this has to do with the Food Bank For New York City. Well, first, Congress passed a major, $2.4-trillion deficit reduction bill this summer that puts funding for programs that provide assistance to our most vulnerable neighbors at risk, so when discussion turns to additional federal spending cuts, we pay close attention. Second, as a key piece of our city’s disaster response network, we care deeply about the operations of government relief programs.

But perhaps most importantly, this move to require spending cuts in order to provide emergency relief for Americans hurt by a natural disaster is a poignant example of the importance of our country’s entitlement programs – including food stamps (SNAP) – which could be threatened in D.C.’s deficit reduction talks.

The annual budgets of entitlement programs are not set in stone. The reason for this is that entitlement programs are designed to respond to changing conditions, growing when need increases and shrinking when no longer needed, unencumbered by budget limitations or political infighting.

In the days after the storm, as families assessed the damage, New York and other affected states began issuing replacement SNAP benefits to food stamp recipients who lost food purchased with their food stamps as a result of the storm – an effort that the Food Bank worked hard to support in areas of New York City that experienced power outages. . In the hardest hit areas, Disaster SNAP extended benefits to households that suddenly found themselves in need of food assistance.

If SNAP were not an entitlement program, this immediate response to a spike in need would not be possible. If the SNAP budget were limited or cut so that it could no longer have this flexibility, it would take an act of Congress to authorize emergency spending – and families in need would have to go without food assistance while waiting for that process to conclude. If your county was hit by a sudden storm like Irene, if large layoffs were experienced after an unexpected recession or if you simply fell on hard times, programs like SNAP are there to make sure you and your family will have enough to eat.

While the similarities between hurricane relief and the relief the Food Bank provides year-round to New Yorkers in need may not be immediately apparent – both must be able to assess the level of need in affected communities and respond in kind. If this is not allowed to happen without obstruction, people could be forced to go without the food they need to get by and recover.

Want your elected officials to protect important food assistance programs? Send a message to Congress now!

Tang’s Natural NYC Dumpling Festival Mascot, “Tangy Mama”

Tangy Mama here! We may have met at a past year’s festival, but in case not I should introduce myself. Not only am I the friendliest dumpling you’ve ever met and the mascot of the Annual Tang’s Natural NYC Dumpling Festival, but I’m also a proud member of the fight to end hunger!

Tangy Mama, Mascot of the Annual Tang's Natural NYC Dumpling Festival
Luckily our 3rd Annual Tang’s Natural NYC Dumpling Festival is right around the corner, so if we haven’t met I hope to see you there! This year’s event, on September 17, is sure to be a dough-ball of fun with eleven restaurant booths serving an entire array of international dumpling varieties. They say “it takes one to know one,” and this little dumpling-lady knows her dumpling business and says that this festival shouldn’t be missed!

I love seeing the crowds of people enjoying such delicious dumplings, all while supporting one of my favorite non-profit organizations: Food Bank For New York City. There are so many booths to choose from, including miss Korea BBQ, Veselka and Ivy Bakery. The scheduled live performances are sure to please: the talented dance ensemble, Lei Pasifika is sure to impress the crowds with their Polynesian dance. If I’m a lucky dumpling, maybe I’ll learn a new dance step or two!

But that’s not all! This year, the Chef One Dumpling Eating Contest, one of our featured events, is in its 8th year! Additionally, dumpling history will be made, as Guinness World Records® will also be there to preside over an attempt to see who can set the new record of “Most Dumplings Eaten in 2 Minutes”! My goodness!

A whole festival devoted to dumplings – I couldn’t be more excited – especially since all proceeds benefit the Food Bank For New York City. Last year, we raised more than 220,000 meals for New Yorkers who struggle to afford food. I can’t wait to see how we do this September! So save the date, bring your family and friends out to Sara D. Roosevelt Park on E. Houston Street! I hope to see you there!

A Hot Dog, the World's Most Versatile Food?

By Noemie Craven,

How many ways can you cook a hot dog? At least 24, as will be showcased at the Great Hot Dog Cookoff at Kelso of Brooklyn on July 23. The event, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting the Food Bank For New York City, features amateur chefs putting their culinary prowess to the test as they grill, chop and transform Applegate Organic links in hopes of winning one the coveted prizes: Best in Show, Beta Dog (2nd place), Best Working Dog, Best Toy Dog and Top Dog (crowd favorite).

Judging from this year's contestants: Disco Dog,Panuchos Perros, You're Going To Need A Bigger Boat,  Frank Seoul-Natra,  Snap, Crackle, Dog! just to name a few, your taste buds are in for ride. As you're loading up on these one-of-a-kind concoctions, try to save room (a challenge - we know) for dessert: oh-so-delicious samples from SoCo Creamery.

Brooklyn summers can get hot but thankfully, our gracious host, Kelso, will be pouring their tasty brew all afternoon and P&H Soda will be using SodaStream to create fizzy refreshers.

George Duran, host of TLC's Ultimate Cake-Off, will be on hand to keep things moving as the event's MC. And if you want to start working off those extra calories, DJ Rabbi Darkside will be getting everyone grooving throughout the event.

While you chow down to your heart’s content at the Great Hot Dog Cookoff, it should warm your heart as well to know that each $45 ticket you purchase will help provide 225 free meals for New Yorkers in need. Because the Food Bank receives donated food and purchases wholesale food, we are able to leverage every dollar donated to provide five meals.

Check out photos from last year's event to really get your mouth watering and get your tickets now before the event sells out!

A whole afternoon of fun benefiting a great cause - what more could you ask for?  See you at the Cookoff!

Noemie Craven is the Food Bank’s Campaigns & Special Events Manager.

Celebrating Our Independence

by Ashley Goforth

As you head off to celebrate the Fourth of July with picnics and fireworks in honor of America’s Independence, we want to thank you for the independence your support provides.

Thanks to your support of all our programs, we are able to work hard to give New Yorkers the independence they need to get back on their feet, get the food they need and the nutrition education that ensures a healthy future. Through our income support efforts – food stamp initiatives and the Free Income Tax Service program – we help New Yorkers work toward the monetary independence they need to avoid choosing between paying for groceries and paying rent. Through our nutrition education programs, we encourage the approximately 30,000 CookShop graduates to gain independence to make healthier choices in their daily lives. Through our citywide network of soup kitchens and food pantries, we help New Yorkers in need see that they don’t have to sacrifice their independence for food.

The Food Bank depends on supporters like you – whether you make a monthly donation, volunteer at our Community Kitchen or contact your Congress members to stop budget cuts to the federal emergency food program – to continue to provide the services and support that make up the safety net against hunger.

We thank you for everything you do to ensure that more New Yorkers can celebrate and cherish the independence the Food Bank works hard to provide.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday this weekend, from all of us here at the Food Bank!

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