Monday, December 18, 2006

NYCCAH Offers Praise for New Bloomberg Initiative, Support for the REAACT Bill

Today members of the Coalition Against Hunger praised the Bloomberg administration for its announcement of a new initiative to provide low-income New Yorkers with tools and education to reach financial empowerment. In particular, the Coalition praised the inclusion of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) among the ideas to be funded (covered in the New York Times).

Earlier today, Joel Berg, executive director of the Coalition, offered brief testimony to the New York City Council in support of the Ready Access to Assistance (REAACT) bill offered by Councilman Bill deBlasio (Intro. 359). This bill would once again allow advocates and non-profit volunteers into government offices to assist applicants in knowing their rights and obtaining benefits. The practice, disallowed under the Giuliani administration, would "enable city residents to get the best possible service from their government," according to Berg.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Holiday Gift to the Hungry: Another dip in Food Stamps participation, and (not coincidentally) City timeliness rates

NYCCAH today released the latest analysis of City food stamp participation numbers. Participation dropped in October 2006 by 5,039 people, and is now at the lowest level since October 2005. In addition, year-to-date data as of September 2006 indicates that the citywide food stamps timeliness rate at job centers has gotten even worse, with the City now missing the federal 30 day deadline in 19.1% – nearly one in five – of all cases.

Said Joel Berg, executive director of NYCCAH, “Mayor Bloomberg often speaks about the importance of having solid data upon which to base decisions. Now that there is clear proof that Food Stamps Program participation is dipping in the City even as it is increasing Statewide and even as hunger is soaring, I hope the Mayor accepts the reality that the City is at fault for placing too many barriers in the way of program access. I hope he directs his new Food Policy Task Force and his new Food Policy Coordinator to make it a top priority to fix this broken program.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bloomberg, Quinn announce creation of new office of Food and Nutrition

Today, City Council Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg jointly announced the creation of a new Office of Food and Nutrition meant to coordinate policy in the City's response to hunger and malnutrition. The pair also announced a parallel expansion of an existing program to assist bodegas in selling healthier food in low-income communities where nutritious, affordable food is rare. Coverage in the New York Times and the New York Post included NYCCAH's enthusiastic support of these measures.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Data: Hunger Still Skyrocketing in NYC

Today the Coalition Against Hunger released its newest annual survey of hunger in NYC, demonstrating that despite the soaring stock market and other positive economic indicators, the number of NYC residents forced to feed their families at soup kitchens and food pantries continues to grow. See the press release and full report.

Update: These numbers generated stories Thanksgiving week from the following print outlets: the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Newsday, Metro NY, AM NY, Hoy, El Diario La Prensa, Queens Chronicle, Queens Tribune, Queens Ledger, Brooklyn Courier Life, City Limits Weekly, Christian Post and People’s Daily Online, and the wire services Associated Press, Agence France Presse and Xinhua. Segments aired on the following television programs: NBC News, ABC News, NY1 News, NY1 “Inside City Hall,” NY1 “The Call,” Univision Noticias, Telemundo Noticias, My9 News, WPIX News, Brooklyn/Bronx 12 News, Fox 5 News (unconfirmed), and Bronx Net “Bronx Talk.” Radio segments aired on the following stations: WNYC News, 1010 WINS, WWRL “The Armstrong Williams Show,” WBAI News, WBAI “Talkback w/ Hugh Hamilton” and WBAI “Wake-Up Call.”

Monday, November 20, 2006

HRA Commissioner admits to a rise in hunger - even among her own staff

In a hearing given today before the New York City Council, HRA Commissioner Verna Eggleston testified that she is seeing an increase in need for food stamps at her agency, even among her own employees. Read NYCCAH's testimony from this hearing here.

Update: The Daily News has learned that 3%, or approximately 8,000 city employees, make so little that they are forced to use food stamps to feed their families.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Hunger Numbers Set For Release Tuesday

The Coalition will be releasing the results of its 2006 survey of NYC's soup kitchens and food pantries Tuesday 11/21 and Wednesday 11/22 in media events across the five boroughs. The flagship event in the Bronx Tuesday morning will feature speakers including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Assembly Members Benjamin and Rivera, and City Council members Addabo and Brewer. See more details here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Groundbreaking Mapping Study reveals link between obesity and hunger and lack of Fresh Produce in low-income neighborhoods

In a press release the New York City Coalition Against Hunger announced it has completed a pioneering new study using cutting-edge computer mapping technology to show how low-income neighborhoods in the city lack access to nutritious food in supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and other sources of fresh produce. It demonstrates that, in low-income neighborhoods, fresh produce and nutritious food are harder to access than fattening junk food. The study includes an interactive map of all food sources in New York City from restaurants to retail sites, and raw data for public use. The study was subsequently covered by the NY Daily News, WOR Channel 9 News, the Queens Tribune, Bronx 12 News, and the Gotham Gazette.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pantries should receive additional funding

In an article appearing in the New York Daily News, Lisa Colangelo reports on the testimony given by Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, regarding the trans fat ban. "We support the ban, but people need to understand this will mean less food in the food pantry," said Berg. Berg also told the Board of Health that any plan to ban food with trans fats, means the city should provide extra money for pantries and soup kitchens to buy trans fat-free foods.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trans-fat ban should be coupled with funding increases for Emergency Food Providers

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger supports the proposed measure made to ban all trans fats. However, some worries must first be addressed, as mentioned in a testimony by Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. Berg says that the "efforts to ban trans fats need to be part of an even broader effort to increase nutrition education and improve the access to healthy, affordable food citywide." This should include increased access to the Food Stamp and WIC Programs. Berg also states that the already stretched resources of Emergency Food Providers in New York City should not be stretched even further by cutting funding or food supplies. Since these agencies will also be required to obide by the new regulations, their funding will need to be increased so that they can comply.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hardworking Responsibility

A letter written by Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and published in the New York Times, he responds to an article written by James Traub that was published in the New York Times on October 8th, 2006. Traub cites theorists who claim that people who act and live responsibly will not be poor, or will be able to rise out of poverty. Berg writes that this could not be true since many responsible people are hard workers, working two or three jobs, just to pay the bills. Berg cites family, connections and luck as some possible determinates of wealth.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Going for its goal

The Gotham Gazette recently interviewed Lawrence Aber, a member of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Commission for Economic Opportunity, regarding the Commission, shortcomings of its methods used to measure poverty, and to answer questions whether the city’s new anti-poverty efforts are succeeding. In the interview, Aber states that he believes poverty is much worse than the numbers suggest, many people live below the Economic Opportunity Index. Aber does however believe that the commission is going to meet its goals. Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, responded to the commissions report in late September. He also stated that the Coalition is glad the mayor and the commision are doing someting, but it would like to see them do more.

Friday, October 13, 2006

New Federal Law Could Hurt City

A new federal law that went in to effect this month could hurt New York City by as much as $375 million a year in fees. Neil DeMause reported in the Village Voice of the meeting between councilmember Bill de Blasio and Human Resources Administration commissioner Verna Eggleston. Essleston noted that the federal government has redefined allowable work activities for welfare recipients to exlude, for example, caring for sick relatives. She still plans on increasing the city's participation rate for eligible individuals up to the required 50 percent. Whether the city will be able to reach that goal is not known. If the city does not reach that goal, then federal funding could be cut by as much as $375 million a year. Eggleston, however, did not state what this funding loss could mean to the city's poor. She simply reassured that she believes the poor should not "bear the brunt of our inefficiencies."

Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, also attended, and stated that only 23 percent of welfare recipients in New York City have left welfare because they found work, and one-quarter of those were no longer employed six months later.

In his testimony regarding welfare reform, Berg said you cannot judge the success of welfare reform solely by how many people leave welfare for work. He likened this to judging the success of a hospital solely by how many people leave. Berg stated, "you never hear a public official say: 'Well, fewer people are getting social security, great!'"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Food Stamp Program participation down

The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) just released data indicating participation in the Food Stamp Program in New York City dropped in August 2006 by 5,031 people, and is now at the lowest level since November 2005. Data also shows that 40,534 more meals were served at soup kitchens and food pantries by July 2006 compared to July 2006. Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coaltion Againt Hunger, responded to this information in a Press Release stating, “it is indeed troubling that the use of the federally-funded Food Stamp Program is declining at precisely the same time that the use of charitable food pantries and soup kitchens – which receive limited City funding – is increasing...this is the latest indication that the City has yet to remove the many daunting barriers to Food Stamp Program access.”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Economic Opportunity Report

A response by Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, was quick to follow after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his commission against poverty released the Economic Opportunity Report in September. The economic report released by Bloomberg outlines goals that the Bloomberg administration is tackling to combat poverty. It also focuses on three specific poverty groups; children, young adults 16-24, and the working poor. Berg agrees that this is a good place to start, since these groups comprise a large percentage of New Yorkers living in poverty, although other populations living in poverty should not be forgotten.

Berg also said, "We certainly support the call to increase access to work supports such as food stamp benefits and child care. Furthermore, we whole-heartedly support the creation of poverty measurements that more accurately reflect the daily reality of low-income people living in a city as expensive as New York." Bloomberg also mentioned a new program the city would like to implement. This new program would reward people with up $1,500 in return for other positive behaviors. Melanie Lefkowitz, Newday staff writer, writes in her article Perks for the poor (available by subscription only), that the rewards program would be funded through private donations, and it would even be the first of its kind in the United States. Although proven successful in other countries, Berg criticized the Administration for creating new benefits that would require additional funds, rather than increase access to the Food Stamp Program, which would provide a low-income family in New York City with an average $2,400 per year in federal support for improved nutrition.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mayor Bloomberg proposes Trans Fat Ban

The Bloomberg Administration has proposed a ban on most trans fats in New York City restaurants. Advocates with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger find this to be a sensible approach that would improve the nutrition and health of New Yorkers of all economic backgrounds. This should, however, be the first step in an even broader effort to increase nutrition educations and improve the access to healthy, affordable food citywide, said the Advocates.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Council vows to increase food stamp enrollment

Nearly $1 Billion a year in federal funding are lost to New York City because more than 500,000 eligible New Yorkers are not receiving Food Stamp Benefits. However, Council Speaker Christine Quinn has vowed to sign up at least 350,000 eligible recipients by the end of 2009, according to Frank Lombardi of the New York Daily News. Although enrollment has increased by 30 Percent since Mayor Bloomberg took office, New York still has not reached its one-time peak enrollment in 1995 of 1.5 million participants. Even though the Mayor claims you have to work to earn food stamps, nearly two out of three recipients are children, elderly or disabled people not working, according to Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn-Queens) and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) have been pressing for passage of a bill to remove bureaucratic obstacles in the application process.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bloomberg Ignores Food Stamp Eligibility of Children, Seniors, and the Disabled

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger commented on remarks Mayor Bloomberg made regarding Food Stamp eligibility on a recent radio interview on WABC-AM with John Gambling. In the Press Release released by the Coalition, Blomberg was quoted saying that only working adults are eligible for Food Stamps Benefits, a statement criticized because at least 65 percent of Food Stamp recipients are children, seniors or people with disabilities who are not able to work.

Forbes' Billionaires Nearly Double in New York City

According to the most recent "Forbes 400" report, the number of billionaires in New York City increased from 28 to 45 over the last year, with their total net worth at approximately $60.4 billion. The 1.7 million residents living below the federal poverty line earned a total of approximately $3.45 Billion. New York City now has 3% of the nation's overall population, 4% of the nation's people living in poverty, and 11% of the nation's billionaires. WNYC also noted that this is the first year that all 400 richest Americans are billionaires.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tax Credits for the Poor

Poor working families in New York City may soon find relief. In a press conference held on Monday, Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan offering tax credits to poor families to offset child care costs. There is also a plan to initiate a cash rewards program for poor people to encourage them to stay in school and receive preventative medical care. This cash rewards program would be the first of its kind in the nation, although similar programs exist in other countries. Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger was quoted in The New York Times saying he was disappointed that the report did not offer "particular strategies to address city polocies that continue to increase hunger." He was also quoted in an article, for Newsday saying, "we consider this report a down payment on more concrete proposals, including ideas focused on the removal of these obstacles to basic work supports."Other antipoverty advocates agreed with Berg. They fear that focusing on working poor families and young adults will cause other poor populations to be ignored.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Nassau and Bronx Emergency Shelters lose funding

Emergency shelters in the Bronx and Nassau counties have lost their Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) for the following fiscal year, as reported in The New York Nonprofit Press E-Newsletter. Following is the article:

Turnover in Emergency Shelter Grants; Nassau, Bronx Lose Funding

This year’s award of Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) by the State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) has seen considerable turnover among grantees and a complete loss of funding for several high need counties. Nassau County’s only two prior recipients of ESG funding – the Interfaith Nutrition Network (The INN) and the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV)– both lost out in this year's grant awards leaving the County with no ESG grantees. The Bronx also will go without a single ESG award this year. Citizen’s Advice Bureau had been the borough’s only ESG- funded provider in the prior round of awards.

The turnover was the result of an increase number of proposals for the FY2006 program, explained John Sheedy of OTDA’s Public Information Office. Funds were not allocated based on geography, he explained, “the determination of grant awards was based solely on how the organizations ranked.” Statewide, the ESG funding remained virtually constant from year to year at almost $3.1 million. A total of 33 awards were made this year versus 35 last year.

“NCCADV had received grants for the past eight years and we have received grants for the past 11 years,” said Jean Kelly, Executive Director of The INN. The INN had used its $100,000 ESG funding to support work at its three shelters in the county. While the ESG grant represents only a small portion of the agency’s overall budget for shelters, the loss is crucial in light of fundraising pressures, explained Kelly. “We are already operating at a loss. At this time, we are having to consider closing one of our shelters. It would be about 8 families and 35-40 people not having a place to go.”

New York City’s allocation fell by 17% from $833,338 in 2005 to $733,212 in 2006.

A full list of local ESG awardees for 2006 is attached.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Child Obesity

Children are heavier now than ever. It also seems that child obesity starts at home. Many overweight children have parents who do not have enough time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals, and are usually overweight themselves. Nanci Hellmich reported in an article for USATODAY.com that even if the parents start to make changes in their eating habits, they usually start too late, and the children are already set in their eating habits, or they do not want to deny their children. Some parents are also overfeeding their younger children, unintentionally giving them near-adult size portions of food. Starting slow, small and at home is a good way to start improving the eating habits of your entire household.

Free, Fresh Fruit

Giving away fresh fruit in schools may be beneficial to students. A pilot program was recently completed in Mississippi, where different varieties of fresh fruit were given to fifth, eighth and tenth grade students. The program showed that the students increased their intake of fruits, vitamin C and fiber. The tenth grade students even planned on increasing their fruit intake overall. The article, listed on Reuters, did say that further research was needed to ensure effectiveness of this method of fruit distribution.

Link found between Poverty and Asthma

In low-income neighborhoods, children are four times more likely to be hospitalized from Asthma than in other areas. Natalie Olivero writes in an article for the Gotham Gazette that the reason for these higher instances of asthma and asthma related hospitalizations could come from higher amounts of pollution in the air. Low-income neighborhoods tend to have more bus-depots and processing facilities than other neighborhoods.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Anti-poverty Legislation announced

New legislation was recently propsed that would simplify the food stamp process and also create additional grants for nonprofit organizations. The bill, entitled the Anti-Hunger Empowerment Act of 2006, was submitted by U.S. Reps. Anthony Weiner and Jose E. Serrano after the US Census bureau released its most recent poverty statistics for NYC. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has also announced several plans to help reduce hunger and poverty in NYC. Her plan is to reduce the number of food stamp eligible un-enrolled individuals by half, increasing enrollment by about 300,000. Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger, stated in the Queens Tribune Online that he was moved by her message and her goal to reach the 50 percent reduction of food stamp eligible un-enrolled inidivuals.

Funding despite fiscal shortage

Despite fiscal shortages, 15 Staten Island Organizations serving the needs of senior citizens will still receive their annual funding this year. Borough President James Molinaro recently allocated $858,487 to organizations throughout the Island, although he had feared funding cuts. Molinaro was quoted in the Staten Island Advance saying, "I am extremely proud that, despite fiscal shortfalls, I am able to maintain funding for these vital programs."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hunger among NYC children

A report released by the Food Bank For New York City showed that 18 percent of children in New York City relied on emergency food programs, such as soup kitchens and food pantries, for their meals. The study also found that hungry children have a harder time learning.

Poverty and obesity linked in NYC children

Poverty rates in New York City among children are 50 percent higher than those for other children across the United States, as reported by Michelle Nichols for Reuters. Of the 1.9 million children living in NYC, about one in four lives below the federal poverty line. Most of these children are also overweight, since many of their families are not able to provide their children with the nutritious food they need to live a nutritionally balanced life.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Simplified access to benefits

New policies to help the poor people of New York City may soon be coming. Tracie McMillan reports that in a memo obtained by City Limits WEEKLY, Mayor Bloomberg's Commission for Economic Opportunity made statements that seemed to suggest that the commission wants to simplify the processes involved with receiving government benefits. The Commission is even interested in possibly making enrollment and screenings available online. Bloomberg and the commission have been criticized by some for moving away from Giuliani'’s "tough love" approach, that makes getting government benefits complicated, thus weeding out individuals that aren't dedicated enough to see the process through. Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger was reported saying that "the city has a long way to go before access is as easy as point and click anyway."

New York

In a Star-Gazette opinion piece gubernatorial candidates should focus more on the states economic problems. The census report released in late August revealed the news of the once again increased poverty rate in NYS. Hardest hit were the big upstate cities, some of which are experiencing poverty rates of about 30 percent. Each of the three frontrunner candidates had well informed and different ideas on how to attack the increasing rate of poverty. Gallagher however writes that more discussion between the candidates, analyzing their individual poverty reduction plans, would be more beneficial.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Making the greatest job in the world even better

New York City has been called "The greatest city in the world" by many people, including Mayor Bloomberg. Albert Ruiz, columnist for the New York Daily News, agrees. Ruiz however reveals that for many New Yorkers it might not be. The census data released on August 29th reveals that 12% of working adults, live in households that do not have enough food. Mayor Bloomberg, who has been quoted saying he has "the greatest job in the world", has already started a fight against poverty. His anti-poverty commission plans to make New York a more equitable place, in particular for young people and the working poor.

Poverty among immigrants

Moving to America is a dream for many foreigners living in poverty. However, once in America, some find that they still experience poverty they tried to escape. Using the census data released on August 29th, Edwin Andrés Martínez informs us that poverty is prevalent in the Hispanic and immigrant populations of New York City. In an article written for hoyinternet.com, Martínez quotes Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger, saying "the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer." Mayor Bloomberg agrees, and has targeted the immigrant and Hispanic populations in his anti-poverty initiative. "We are concentrating on certain populations to see what we can do to address this problem," the Mayor said.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Census reports

Poverty rates have not risen in New York City for the first time in several years, but reports published by several New York media outlets say that the fight against poverty is not over.

The census report was the top story on NY1 News. Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger was quoted saying “The bad news is hunger and poverty continue to be significant major problems in New York, affecting one in five New Yorkers. The good news is if the government shows real leadership, and not just rhetoric but resources, we really can reduce poverty.”

An article written for The New York Times by Sam Roberts, mentions Mayor Bloomberg's plan to reduce poverty as a goal for his second term. It also states that New York was the only state where both the median income and poverty rates surpassed the national average, indicating that the gap between the wealthy and the poor might be increasing.

Income increases listed in the census report released on August 29th, seem not to be wage increases, as reported in an editorial of The New York Times. The gains came most likely from investment income and social security, since wages and salaries declined.

Richard Parsons, Co-chairman of Mayor Bloomberg's anti-poverty commission and CEO of Time Warner, got a taste of what his life will be like on the board of the commission, according to Jill Gardiner, staff reporter of The New York Sun. After the release of the census report on August 29th, a group of citizens demanded that he and the commission be aggressive in its plan to reduce poverty in New York.

Poverty among seniors increased however, as WNBC reported on its website.

Of all of the five boroughs, Bronx is statistically the least wealthy, according to federal government poverty rates, with over 29 percent of people living in poverty. Although the overall poverty rate for New York did not increase, the Bronx still remains one of the nations poorest counties, according to
Cindy Rodriguez at WNYC, New York Public Radio.

City ordered to stop denying food stamps to eligible applicants

Applying for food stamps might get better soon. According to an article published in the New York Times, a federal judge has ordered the food stamp office to stop denying food stamp benefits to eligible individuals. Nina Bernstein writes that the city has been aware of the computer problems and system errors that force food stamp workers to turn applicants away. Little was done until a group of battered women filed a law suit late last year.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Poverty stabilized in New York City, but rose in New York State

Poverty rates have risen again in New York State, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Although the poverty rate in New York City remained stabilized, the report reconfirmed that one in five New York City residents lives below the federal poverty line. Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger, stated that these high levels of poverty in New York City, and throughout the state, "should provide a wake-up call for both government officials and business leaders." Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum reinforced this call by signing on to an action plan to significantly reduce hunger in the city.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Berg, others deride Besharov's view of "Welfare Lite"

Joel Berg, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Hunger, was printed in Sunday's New York Times Opinion section alongside several others deriding a recent Op-Ed by conservative commentator Douglas Besharov suggesting that food stamps and other policies constitute 'welfare lite.' Wrote Berg, "even when conservatives like Mr. Besharov are forced to admit that low-income Americans are now working more but earning less, their only response is to propose steps that would further reduce their standard of living. That’s social policy lite."

Mayor's Commission Member Highlights Food Stamps

A recent opinion piece in the Gotham Gazette written by David R. Jones, member of Mayor Bloomberg's Economic Opportunity Commission, has finally made the point that food stamps are an integral tool in encouraging work. We can only hope that these important ideas will gain momentum within the commission, and provide the framework for targeted action when its findings are released next month.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Try dumpster-diving, airline tells workers

I wish the article below was a parody from the humor magazine Onion. It is so horrid it certainly could be. But the truly amazing thing is that this article is real, on MSN. Almost as if they are trying to portray a grotesque parody of the worst excesses of America's previous gilded age, a major corporation (Northwest Airlines) is telling its soon-to-be laid off workers that they should obtain things they need out of garbage dumpsters and that they should pretend they are not "hungry" when shopping.

I've got a better idea: what if top executives of the company took pay cuts instead of implementing massive lay-offs?

The idea of personal responsibility should be universal in society -- applying to welfare recipients, middle class families, and corporate leaders alike. -- Joel

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Try Dumpster-diving, airline tells workers

By MSN Money staff and wire reports

Northwest Airlines, which has slashed wages and jobs and is looking to lay off more workers as it exits bankruptcy, has apologized for distributing a booklet of money-savings tips for workers that includes advice that they go dumpster-diving.

The fifth-largest U.S. carrier put the tips in a booklet handed out to about 50 workers and posted for a time on its employee Web site. The booklet was part of a 150-page packet to ground workers, such as baggage handlers, whose jobs will likely be cut after their union agreed to allow the airline to outsource some of their work.

Prepared with the help of an outside company, the booklet encourages employees to manage their money better and prepare for financial emergencies. In one section, called "Preparing for a Financial Setback," Northwest suggests that workers can take "a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods." It also says they should not be "shy about pulling something you like out of the trash."

Also among the tips: No. 48: Move to a less expensive place to live; and No. 59: Never grocery shop hungry.

'A bit insensitive'

Northwest spokesman Roman Blahoski says some employees were offended by the suggestions.
He tells Reuters, "We agree that some of these suggestions and tips ... were a bit insensitive." The airline said the list was inadvertently published in the resource guide without being reviewed by Northwest management. The airline has removed the list from the booklet and its employee Web site, the Detroit Free Press said.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Senator Clinton Thanks NYCCAH AmeriCorps Team

On August 7, U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton met NYCCAH AmeriCorps Members and thanked them for their service to the country and state. NYCCAH's AmeriCorps Members serve in either the VISTA Program or the AmeriCorps "Direct" Program, working both full and part-time on neighborhood-based anti-hunger activities. Senator Clinton is a long-time supporter of both AmeriCorps and anti-hunger programs.

WNYC Covers Food Stamps/Farmers' Market Story

WNYC, NYC's flagship public radio station, recently highlighted the efforts of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the NYC Council on the Environment, and NYCCAH to bring more farmers' markets to low-income neighborhodds and ensure that they accept food stamp benefits. See: http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/62957

Public Advocate Joins NYCCAH in Criticizing Hunger Hotline


Coalition Against Hunger Executive Director Joel Berg joined Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum in publicizing a new report criticizing the City for continued mismanagement of the toll-free Hunger Hotline last week. “If you can’t find food, you can’t eat,” Berg told the press. Read the release and full report here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New City Council Program Boosts Food Stamps at Farmers' Markets

The Coalition Against Hunger joined City Council speaker Christine Quinn and the Council on the Environment of NYC (CENYC), operator of half of the city's farmers' markets (see map) in launching a pilot project to give New Yorkers who receive food stamps greater access to nutritious food at these markets. Quinn and the Council allocated $81,000 in the FY 2007 budget for the program, mainly for the purchase of wireless EBT terminals. (Pictured: Quinn, CENYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen, Coalition Executive Director Joel Berg, and a farmer)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blackout: Reimbursement available for spoiled food

Residents of Queens and the Bronx affected by the major blackouts of this week and last week can obtain reimbursements for spoiled food through the New York City government and conEdison. Additionally, those who receive food stamps can obtain replacement food stamps by filling out an application within the next 10 days. For instructions and procedures, residents are urged to call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

City Council donates money to food pantry

As a result of an individual member’s request, a $4,000 grant was given to the Yorkville Common Food Pantry by the City Council. There has been some controversy over how these funds are allocated, particularly in regards to whether the projects are deserving of grants or are simply member “pet projects.”

The food deserts--not desserts--of Chicago

A recent analysis in the Chicago Tribune discusses the lack of healthy and nutritious food available in low-income African American communities. The New York City Coalition Against Hunger is in the process of completing its own mapping report about food security in the South Bronx, Brownsville, and Central Harlem. The information will be available at nyccah.org/maps.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Youth group from Stoughton, Mass. volunteers in NYC

Ten members of the Stoughton First Congregational Church traveled to New York City on a five-day mission trip. During this time, they worked at soup kitchens and fed “over 5,000 people,” according to one young volunteer. His mother observed that “in New York there are just so many different things out there for those people who really need it.”

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Kosher food for Orthodox needy

Amidst rising hunger among Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and what the Food Bank for New York City refers to a “stigma” about poverty among this population, the Orthodox soup kitchen Masbia serves a large number of Brooklyn Jews.

City food agency key component of Council anti-hunger plan

Responding to calls from advocates and health professionals, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and member Eric Gioia are seeking a comprehensive citywide approach to fighting hunger. According to Gioia, the sensible, low-cost plan endorsed by the council entails creating a city hunger czar, cutting through the red tape on food stamps access, and enabling food stamps recipients to obtain healthier foods like fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New welfare guidelines may increase need for emergency food

From the July 7 edition of the Foodlinks America electronic newsletter:

"Revised guidelines for what can be counted to meet work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the federal government’s main welfare support mechanism for families with children, reduce state flexibility and may increase the number of families in need of emergency food. The new regulations were issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services in the June 28, 2006 Federal Register.

"Welfare analysts found the new rules to be unduly restrictive....

"'In the late 1990s, in a better economy with more spending on child care and other work supports, states had a hard time reaching even the lower work standards,' Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, told Foodlinks America. 'Now, with fewer jobs available and less money for work supports, states will have no choice but to throw more people off the rolls – whether or not they have jobs,' Berg noted. 'The new rules will likely increase poverty, homelessness, and hunger – the absolute opposite of their stated goal of helping people achieve self-sufficiency,' he said."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Column: Inform kids about summer meals

With one in four children in New York City lacking consistent access to sufficient, quality food, Daily News columnist Albor Ruiz calls attention to the Summer Meals Service for Children that provides free food for children in the summer. He says lack of information has been a cause of low enrollment in the program, even though it is desperately needed.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Links found between food insecurity and obesity

A recent study from the American Society for Nutrition shows a strong link between household food insecurity and individual weight gain. Along with an American Medical Association report linking poverty and obesity in black adolescents, a USDA analysis showing income linked to children's eating habits, and a brand new Journal of Nutrition study linking food insecurity and obesity in women, the existing corpus of research overwhelmingly favors a link between lack of food and obesity and contradicts a previous finding in Pediatrics magazine.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

McGovern, Quinn dine to mark National Hunger Awareness Day


Former Senator and current “got breakfast?” spokesperson George McGovern (D-S.D.) joined City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and schoolchildren at P.S. 93 on National Hunger Awareness Day, June 6, to call attention to free school breakfast programs. School breakfasts are inadequately used, and at a time of problematic citywide hunger, both the “got breakfast?” campaign and Quinn view increasing participation as a significant goal. Quinn called on her fellow council members to join her in eating with children that day, and 27 heeded her request.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Memorial weekend festive at Holy Apostles


NYCCAH file photo: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

It was all burgers and baked beans at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, as volunteers tried to infuse regular meal service with a festive, all-American atmosphere. Father Bill Greenlaw, rector and executive director of the meal program, said many veterans are among the clientele.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Coalition releases plan to end U.S. child hunger by 2012

Today the New York City Coalition Against Hunger released a position paper cowritten by Executive Director Joel Berg and national political consultant Tom Freedman intended to spur an end to U.S. child hunger by 2012. The paper demonstrates the solveability of the problem, and points out that the tools for accomplishing this worthy goal are already available - all that is needed is the will to "break the political logjam," and combine these efforts in a targeted campaign.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Council not interested in Mayor's budget dance


Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to include $300 million in funding for existing programs in his proposed city budget. Many in the New York City nonprofit community expressed disappointment at Bloomberg’s readiness to engage in the annual “budget dance,” a term used by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to describe the political maneuvering surrounding allocations. Said Coalition Against Hunger Executive Director Joel Berg, “Not only did the mayor fail to include funding for any of the anti-hunger initiatives proposed by Speaker Quinn, he actually called for [a] $670,000 cut in the Emergency Food Assistance Program.... We applaud Speaker Quinn and the Council for realizing that with millions of lives at stake, the budget process should not be a 'dance' but rather a serious process of meeting city needs."

Belated aid: Online food stamps apps to become available

Next December, one month later than mandated by the City Council last summer, New York City will allow hungry citizens to apply for food stamps online. New York has an unusually low rate of participation in the Food Stamps Program, which many credit to excessive bureaucratic red tape and problems with the in-person application process.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Quinn proposes EBT scanners at Greenmarkets

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn proposed allocating $81,000 out of the city budget to install EBT card scanners that would allow Greenmarkets—farmers’ markets in Brooklyn, Harlem, and the South Bronx—to accept food stamps. Few farmers have the scanners, which run about $1,000 each.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Media comes out against Bloomberg on waiver decision

In an Apr. 23 editorial, The New York Times criticized Bloomberg’s “inexplicable” decision not to allow certain adults to receive food stamps while looking for work. Meanwhile, Daily News columnist Albor Ruiz said it was time for the mayor to get a “wake-up call” about the tragedy of widespread hunger in the richest city in the world.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Denise Morgan, former Coalition director, dies

Denise Morgan, a legal scholar and a former director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, died April 7. She was a valued member of the Coalition's family and an asset to the New York City anti-hunger movement who will be deeply missed.

She was born in Manhattan, grew up in the Bronx, and attended the Chapin School in Manhattan before proceeding to Yale University for her undergraduate and law school education. She then taught law at Florida State University, clerked for a federal judge in California, helped draft the Eritrean constitution from 1995 to 1997, and served on the faculty at New York Law School from 1995 on.

Whether she was fighting to ensure equality in school funding or supporting the Coalition's work against hunger, Denise exemplified the country's best traditions in the continuing struggle for social justice.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mayor reverses course on food stamps waiver


A day after The New York Times reported New York City would permit unemployed, able-bodied adults without children to receive food stamps for over three months in any three-year period, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reversed course. This time limit can be waived by cities with high unemployment rates, like Chicago, Washington, and New York. Of eligible cities, New York is one of only a handful not to exercise the waiver.

The mayor’s apparent flip-flop comes after Human Resources Administration Commissioner Verna Eggleston sent a request to the state for the waiver. Despite a proclaimed effort to fight poverty in his second term, dislike of public assistance programs may have been at the heart of the mayor’s decision. The far right hailed the mayor’s ultimate decision, while anti-poverty advocates were stunned and concerned.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

City Council Speaker Quinn calls to halve NYC hunger

Advocates were "overjoyed" with Christine Quinn's first major address since assuming the top position on the City Council. Speaker Quinn called for specific budget measures to cut hunger in the city by 50%, including the creation of a City Office of Hunger and Nutrition; setting specific goals for increased participation in the federally-funded Food Stamp Program; coordinating enrollment in the Food Stamp and School Meals Programs; and increasing the number of farmers’ markets in low-income neighborhoods.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Coalition maps spotlighted by Tech Soup


Tech Soup, a technology website for nonprofit organizations, has published a feature story on the New York City Coalition Against Hunger's mapping operations. The interactive maps, which use Google Maps as a framework, show the location of emergency food programs in the five boroughs of New York City.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Controversy over Congressman’s support of food bill

U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns, who represents parts of Brooklyn, has come under fire for his sponsorship of the National Uniformity in Food Act. The bill, which passed the House Mar. 9, would impose uniform labelling standards. Its opponents include consumer organizations and some state Democrats. Supporters, however, hailed the bill as a victory for consumers.

Demand for emergency food up in United States

Nationally, the demand for emergency food has increased by 8 percent in the past five years, according to a study by America’s Second Harvest. More than 25 million Americans now receive some sort of emergency food at soup kitchens or food pantries.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Coalition joins advocates, Episcopal Church in calling for state $$ increase

Thursday, March 16, 2006, marked the 16th annual Hunger Awareness Day in New York State. In honor of the day, the Coalition Against Hunger, the Hunger Action Network, Feed the Solution and Episcopal emergency food program staff, clients and clergy called upon the New York State Legislature to increase funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP). HPNAP is the main source of state funding for food banks, soup kitchens, food pantries, and food rescue organizations. Governor George Pataki’s budget proposal would leave food pantries and soup kitchens statewide with two million dollars less in HPNAP funding than at its peak level four years ago, even though the number of people served by such agencies has skyrocketed during the same time period.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New data from City shows sharp hike in pantry and kitchen use

Charitable soup kitchens and food pantries that receive some funding from the City of New York provided 172,840 more meals in 2005 than in 2004, according to the first-ever release by the City of two full calendar years worth of such statistics. During the same two year time period, participation in the federally funded Food Stamp Program in the city increased by 141,916-people, providing low-income families with an estimated $170 million in additional federal nutrition assistance. According to Coalition Against Hunger Executive Director Joel Berg, “The only good news is that participation in the Food Stamp Program continues to climb somewhat, providing hungry families much more food than they would be otherwise able to obtain from pantries and kitchens. But as long as pantry and kitchen use continues to soar, our collective work is clearly cut out for us.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

1 in 5 NYC children in food insecure households


One in five New York City children live in food insecure households, according to New York City Coalition Against Hunger data reported in Spanish-language Hoy. Over 400,000 children in the city live in households where at least one member is going hungry or faces insufficient access to sufficient, nutritious food. And in a Feb. 19 column for the Daily News, Albor Ruiz called on city leaders to gain the political will to put an end to hunger in the country's richest city.

Said Joel Berg, executive director of the Coalition Against Hunger: "When every fifth child in New York City lives in a home that doesn't have enough food, it is clear that New York City is facing a hunger crisis. You could fill Yankee Stadium more than seven times with these children. Such numbers should be a wakeup call for government leaders, business executives and average residents alike."

Brooklyn has few healthy choices

A new study by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene shows that Central and Northern Brooklyn residents lack access to adequately healthy food options. Bodegas are the dominant form of grocery vendor, and few bodegas offer green leafy vegetables and other important components of a balanced diet. Restaurants offering high-fat foods like pizza and Chinese food are also dominant.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mayor steamed by officers' need for food stamps

Officials including Mayor Michael Bloomberg are upset because recently lowered wages for city police officers have prompted some new recruits to apply for food stamps. It appears unlikely that any officers would actually qualify for food stamps.

Even as officials justifiably decry the low wages of police officers, over 1 million other New Yorkers--the majority of whom work long hours like these officers--receive food stamps. An estimated 500,000 to 700,000 New Yorkers qualify due to low wages but do not receive food stamps, often deterred by the difficulty of wrangling with bureaucratic red tape. (Photo courtesy tia.org.)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Got whole milk? Nope

The New York City school system, in a move designed to increase nutritional standards and child health, has moved from providing whole milk to exclusively offering skim and 1 percent varieties. Among flavored milks, only chocolate skim milk will remain. (Photo courtesy USDA.)

The personal side of food stamps access problems

For all the public handwringing and political talk about food stamps access problems and the need to fix the system, the personal frustrations of food stamps applicants are often overlooked. But in hearing personal stories, a consistent thread resounds: navigating a mountain of red tape to feed one’s family “sucks.”

Asking the press to ask about welfare

Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, has some questions for the news media to ask about welfare reform. Among them: “Given that poverty, inequality of wealth, hunger, and food insecurity have all increased over the last four years, was welfare reform at least partly to blame for some or all of these increases? Will the further tightening of benefits under the [FY 2006] reconcilliation bill further increase poverty, inequality of wealth, hunger, and food insecurity in America?”

Hunts Point mall stores to allow food stamps


The City Council approved a mall to replace the Bronx Terminal Market at Hunts Point, but not before ensuring that any stores accept food stamps and other food subsidies like those of the Women, Infants and Children program. BJ’s, a wholesale food club almost certain to be a flagship tenant, does not generally accept food stamps but will at the Hunts Point mall. Councilman Hiram Monserrate was among those who pushed for food stamps and WIC, and the guarantee of those programs struck many observers as decent and sensible.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Times weighs in on NYC hunger

A much-anticipated Sunday editorial in The New York Times took on the issue of hunger in New York City. The editorial speaks for itself:

What if, before your next meal, you first had to fill out paperwork and then wait hours in a crowded office to be interviewed and fingerprinted? That is not a hypothetical situation for many of New York's working poor--hundreds of thousands of whom are eligible for food stamps but do not get them because of unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles.

Recent studies by the Urban Justice Center and others document how difficult and degrading it can be for the hungry to get help. Despite improvements, like the state-mandated reduction in paperwork, the city still must regain ground lost under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who built a wall of red tape to express his distaste for the program.

For many of the working poor, food stamps are a necessity, often the difference between having to decide whether to pay the rent or eat. According to various estimates, New York has effectively turned its back on more than $700 million in federal funds that it would receive if every eligible New Yorker enrolled in the food stamp program. That money would be spent in grocery stores and bodegas, boosting the local economy.

The City Council, led by Bill de Blasio of Brooklyn and Eric Gioia of Queens, has been prodding the Human Resources Administration to accept applications by fax and to allow people to apply online and at food pantries and soup kitchens. The Bloomberg administration should embrace these ideas.

One hopeful sign is Mayor Michael Bloomberg's s appointment of Linda Gibbs to be deputy mayor for human resources. Ms. Gibbs helped shape the city's program for the homeless. It is the city's hungry who now require her attention. She could start by instructing workers to stop fingerprinting every applicant. New York is one of a few states that requires this costly and obstructive process. Hunger is indignity enough.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The budget is in

City budget information is now available in the form of a report. Among the revelations is that the city has allocated $8.4 million for food support in 2006 but will pay only $32,000 of the administrative costs of food stamps. So, it turns out, the Food Stamp Program is not costing New York City much at all.

Friday, January 20, 2006

City Council report on hunger

The New York City Council's report on food stamps access, "Empty Cupboards," provides a bracing look at a system that currently underserves New Yorkers. It is available here.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Columnist: Political will can end NYC hunger

In a Jan. 19 Daily News column, Albor Ruiz argued that New York City can end hunger if politicians take steps to ensure families get enough to eat. A good start, he writes, would be increasing the percentage of eligible New Yorkers who receive food stamps by implementing several city laws passed this summer. "The failures of welfare reform--as well as continued underparticipation in the Food Stamp Program--in New York City are forcing more people into poverty, hunger and homelessness than into living wage jobs," said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York Coalition Against Hunger.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Coalition coordinates MLK Serve-A-Thon

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger coordinated its third annual Martin Luther King Day Serve-A-Thon this weekend, bringing New York volunteers into food pantries and soup kitchens to serve their low-income neighbors and honor Dr. King's legacy. East Side Entrees donated 25,000 breakfasts for children in association with the got Breakfast? campaign, led by former Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern. Volunteer opportunities were available in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens.

School food: C-minus, but looking up

Food may be improving in New York Schools, particularly in terms of nutrition, but students and advocates say it has a long way to go before it reaches quality and taste standards. Progress should be ramped up--the alternatives include paying for lunch, eating unnutritious food, or not eating enough. None of these options are worthy of our children.

Poor neighborhoods faced with junk options

Low-income neighborhoods often get the short shrift when it comes to healthy food options, according to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and the New Yorkers who live in these neighborhoods.

"Often people buy less nutritious, more fattening food and get fat because it's cheaper to do so," Executive Director Joel Berg said. "People will travel ridiculously long distances to go to farmers' markets, travel long distances to go to supermarkets."

Food stamps need to be accessible, officials say

In light of a City Council investigation revealing accessibility problems for food stamps, anti-hunger advocates and elected officials gathered Saturday to challenge the city to do more to increase food stamps participation. Among the officials were New York City Councilman Eric Gioia, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. The City Council passed three bills last summer designed to increase accessibility, but the city's implementation has been slow. In the meantime, families are hurting.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Diabetes linked to poor food access

In its Jan. 9 issue, the New York Times offers an extensive analysis of the diabetes crisis that has ensnared the city in recent years. Diabetes frequently results in large part due to a poor diet, which, among certain populations, can be the byproduct of inadequate access to healthy, low-cost foods.

NY food stamps access among the lowest

The Food Resource Action Center has released a state-by-state ranking for food stamps access, and New York again comes out near the bottom. From 2003 to 2004, the state held steady at 41st among all states. Just about 58 percent of eligible New Yorkers received food stamps, up from 54.4 percent the previous year.

Weiner calls attention to NYC hunger problem

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) cited statistics from the city and other sources in noting that food pantries and soup kitchens served more meals to New Yorkers in 2005 than in 2004. Combined with the difficulty of obtaining food stamps, the data suggest an increasing problem of hunger in New York City. One newspaper concluded the city and state must do more. Weiner was joined at the well attended and widely publicized event by City Councilman Eric Gioia, Coalition Against Hunger Executive Director Joel Berg, and others.

Tops on the wish list: no more hunger

In a New Year's Day column for the Daily News, Albor Ruiz makes several wishes to ease the suffering of New Yorkers. He writes:

No more hunger in New York. No city resident should have to agonize any longer over where his family's next meal will come from. I wish this year for the mayor to overcome his lack of interest and to take effective measures to put an end to this shame of the city. Inexcusably, despite its wealth, one in seven city York residents face going hungry or lack sufficient access to food. As any of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer can tell you, hunger does not wait.

And on Queens City Council members' respective lists of goals for 2006, Eric Gioia mentioned feeding hungry people and enabling food stamps access.