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New Data from Food Bank For New York City Reveals Alarming Increase in New Yorkers Turning to Emergency Food Providers Following November 2013 SNAP Cuts


CONTACT: Shruti Sehgal shruti.sehgal@berlinrosen.com, 646-200-5283/ cell: 347-972-8863
Carol Schneider, cschneider@foodbanknyc.org, 212-566-7855, x2231/ cell: 646-831-3645
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2014


Survey of City’s Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens Shows Impact of Food Stamp Cuts on Emergency Food Network; 85% Saw More Visitors After Cuts than after Super Storm Sandy

As Congress Considers Billions More in SNAP Cuts, Conditions Set to Worsen for Hundreds of Thousands of New Yorkers

New York, NY – January 22, 2014 – New research from Food Bank For New York City reveals a majority of New York City’s food pantries and soup kitchens (85 percent) experienced an increase in the number of visitors following a $5 billion national cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) that took effect on November 1st, 2013. In fact, the numbers of visitors post-November 1 actually exceeded the number of visitors seen in November 2012, in the immediate aftermath of Super Storm Sandy.  

As Congress considers slashing billions more from SNAP in Farm Bill negotiations, Food Bank’s survey confirms a worsening hunger crisis for nearly two million New York City SNAP recipients who are increasingly turning to emergency food programs that were struggling to meet the need even before the cuts. Food Bank’s findings indicate:

  • 85% reported an overall increase in visitors in November 2013, as compared to November 2012, immediately following Super Storm Sandy.
  • 76% of food pantries and soup kitchens saw an increase in visitors in November 2013 compared to the previous two months, with nearly half (45%) reporting considerable increases in visitor traffic of more than 25%;
  • Nearly half (48%) of emergency food providers ran out of food required for meals or pantry bags, with 26% reporting having to turn people away due to insufficient food supplies;
  • Nearly one quarter (23%) of food pantries and soup kitchens reported having to reduce the total number of meals they otherwise provided;

“Devastating cuts to SNAP have pushed thousands of low-income New Yorkers and emergency food providers to the very brink of survival. Food pantries and soup kitchens are running out of supplies to sustain growing numbers of city residents who are struggling to feed themselves and their families with reduced benefits. That fact that roughly half of food pantries and soup kitchens ran out of food in a single month should alarm every single New Yorker who believes no one should go to bed hungry,” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City.

“With food insecurity in New York reaching disturbing, historic highs and food banks and soup kitchens facing extreme shortage of meals, many New York families are at risk of hunger and malnutrition,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I will continue to urge my colleagues in Congress to reject harmful cuts to the SNAP program for the most vulnerable and not balance the budget on the backs of hungry children, seniors and veterans.”

Presented today at Food Bank’s Annual NYC Conference on Hunger & Poverty – an all-day event that brings together more than 600 members of the city’s hunger-relief community – this research has troubling implications for New York City, where food poverty has become deeply entrenched since the Great Recession and the country’s weak economic recovery.  In a study conducted prior to November’s massive cut, Food Bank For New York City reported that more than 40% of SNAP recipients across the five boroughs were already turning to food pantries and soup kitchens to keep food on the table as benefits failed to last the month. As the number of New Yorkers accessing emergency food has risen, Food Bank has also found that its network of emergency food providers has shrunk by 25%, a loss of 250 soup kitchens and food pantries, since the start of the recession in 2007.

“These cuts not only impact SNAP recipients, but everyone in the five boroughs. New York City alone will lose approximately $225 million a year in food purchases, which is money that also supports jobs in our retail food sector and throughout the economy. We need every New Yorker to take notice and help us make Congress work to protect and improve our anti-hunger resources,” said Purvis.

About the Cuts

On November 1, 2013, 76 million meals lost: Sweeping cuts to SNAP benefits went into effect, resulting in the estimated loss of 76 million meals for New York City residents. This loss is more food than Food Bank For New York City – the largest food bank in the country with a robust and experienced network of 1,000 charities – distributes annually.

A household of three lost, on average, $29 per month in SNAP benefits – or nearly $19 million per month in New York City alone. These cuts are the result of a deal struck in December 2010 in order to pay for a $0.06 per meal increase in federal school lunch reimbursements as part of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.” While the White House promised to work with Congress to restore the funds before the cuts could take effect, the promise has yet to be fulfilled.

In Farm Bill negotiations, currently ongoing, Congress is reportedly considering an additional $9 billion in cuts to SNAP – a cut that would strip almost 300,000 New York families who get heating assistance of an average of $90 in monthly nutrition assistance. These New Yorkers, for whom food is already a scarcity, will now be forced to choose between having heat in their homes during the bitter cold winter months and buying groceries. 

About Food Bank For New York City:

Food Bank For New York City recognizes 31 years as the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs.  As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, the Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts — food distribution, income support and nutrition education — all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of community-based member programs citywide, the Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. The Food Bank’s hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. 94% of donations go directly toward food distribution, acquisition and programs in all five boroughs of New York City.  Learn how you can help at foodbanknyc.org.

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