Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Green Carts' Initiative

On Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced their support for the Green Carts proposal, which calls for a phase in over two years of 1,500 City pushcart vendors that exclusively sell fresh fruits and vegetables. The carts will operate in areas throughout the five boroughs with low consumption of and limited access to fruits and vegetables. Some of those on the long waiting list for street vendor licenses will likely opt to sell fruits and vegetables instead of waiting to operate the usual and unhealthy hot dog/pretzel stand. The Bronx and Brooklyn, which have more food deserts, will receive the most permits.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Farm Bill Passes Senate

The Senate finally approved the 2007 Farm Bill with a 70-14 vote. The massive piece of legislation covers agricultural subsidies, conservation, as well as nutrition programs like the Food Stamp Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The new Senate bill expands investments in the Food Stamp Program and TEFAP. It raises household asset limits and indexes them, increases the indexing of the $10 minimum monthly benefit and the standard deductions for households with three or less, and boosts TEFAP commodities purchases. President Bush has threatened a veto, stating the bill is too costly - he also threatened a to veto the version passed by the house in July. Check out for updates on the 2007 Farm Bill.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Businesses Benefit from the Food Stamp Program

The Food Stamp program is advantageous to the businesses that accept EBT cards, as well as to those holding the cards. In the Lower East Side, a neighborhood that despite an influx of gentrifying people still has many poor residents, Viva Fruits and Vegetables in the Essex Market is just one example of a business benefiting from its participation in the Food Stamp program. Fresh and exotic produce is found at a bargain at the stand and in the market. The manager of Viva, Sobeida Delacruz, said "We get lots of EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer for food stamps) cards." Delacruz estimates that 70 percent of the stand's business comes from the food stamp program.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Elderly Face Hunger

A new study released today finds that more than one-third of the 1.3 million elderly in New York City are worried about not getting enough food. The Council of Senior Centers and Services conducted a survey of 802 elderly people in 15 communities across all five boroughs, of which 35% reported suffering from food insecurity - even with help from senior centers and emergency food pantries. Food insecurity among New York City's elderly exceeds national and state rates, and the number is only expected to increase with the growth of the aging population.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

USDA Announces New, Revised WIC Food Packages

Today, the USDA announced a new revision to WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) food packages – the first one in nearly three decades. The new packages “will include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,” according to the press release. Through WIC, low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women and women with infants and children up to age five receive health and social services referrals, nutrition education, and supplemental food.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Is Hunger A Crime?

New York State announced its continued agreement with New York City’s demand to keep finger-imaging in place for food stamp applicants. El Diario published an editorial written by Joel Berg, NYCCAH’s executive director, calling attention to the announcement and denouncing the continued insistence on finger-imaging - a practice that has not been found to significantly reduce fraud and instead deters eligible people from applying. The City spends nearly $800,000 yearly on finger-imaging, while in 2006 only 31 cases of fraud were detected through finger-imaging out of 1.1 million people.