Thursday, December 22, 2005

NY secures increase in food stamps benefits

The state will soon see higher food stamps benefits, after the US Department of Agriculture agreed to a request by the state to change the federal formula used to determine benefits. Many food stamp recipients, mostly elderly and disabled, will see an increase in their monthly food stamp benefit of about $10.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Food stamps untouched after all

The US House of Representatives removed a proposed $700 million cut from the Food Stamps Program in a marathon budget bill session. Part of the explanation may be found in a Dec. 14 nonbinding Senate vote opposing the planned cuts; another explanation could be found in a protest by religious leaders against the food stamps and other cuts.

But the victory is not total for the New York City anti-hunger movement. A 1 percent across-the-board cut will cut from food pantries, soup kitchens, food banks, and more, and broader cuts will take funds away from programs that address the root cause of hunger in America: poverty.

Meanwhile, in Long Island...

New York City's easterly neighbors have seen a dramatic increase in food stamps enrollment, due to what state and local officials say is a combination of growing need, new policies, and more aggressive outreach. The increase comes as Nassau and Suffolk Counties have been under fire for their handling of applications.

NY food stamps request denied

The US Department of Agriculture told New York State last week that it could not use the projected rise in home heating costs to increase food stamp benefits. In rejecting the state's request, the USDA said its budget would be based on last year's figures.

Queens woman secures food for pantries

Charlotte Taylor, of Richmond Hill, has started a grassroots program whereby local businesses donate food to local pantries. Her work puts a human face on statistics from the Coalition's Thanksgiving report showing that the city is facing a growing problem feeding its people.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Asking the press to ask about hunger

Hunger is a growing problem in America, and yet it is perennially underreported by media outlets. J. Larry Brown, director of the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Brandeis University, suggests questions reporters should ask, including, "Why has hunger resurfaced again after being essentially eliminated in the late 1970's?"

(We have a few answers to Dr. Brown's questions.)

"Let them have their day in court"

Photo: Richard Perry, The New York Times

According to a lawsuit filed today, hundreds of battered women and children are being illegally dened food stamps due to programming errors in New York City welfare computers and faulty staff traning. Bob McHugh of the NYC Human Resources Administration said the agency has worked "every day" to improve its services.

Pusillanimity: n., contemptible fearfulness

In a Dec. 6 New York Times editorial, "Profiles in Pusillanimity", the newspaper railed against moderate Congressional lawmakers for approving what it called "a truly draconian package" to slash federal programs, including food stamps. Under the approved cuts, over 200,000 low-income Americans face the loss of food stamps worth $140 per month.

Not to spoil the party, but...

Amidst the glitz and glamour of charitable events, causes benefiting the poor are sometimes overlooked, according to an ABC News report. New York City is particularly known for its holiday charitable galas, which often draw thousands of dollars for the arts and elite educational institutions. Nonetheless, in the words of Yale graduate Ben Stein, "The generosity of individuals is much more meaningful to a local soup kitchen than it is to Yale."