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.