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, 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:

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)