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.