Tuesday, May 29, 2007
City Councilman Eric Gioia recently wrote a letter to the president of Costco, the large discount warehouse retailer, asking the company to start accepting food stamps. After taking the Food Stamp Challenge and living on the average weekly allotment of $28, Gioia is even more sensitive to the fact that poor New Yorkers are unable to eat nutritious, balanced meals on such a meager budget. By getting discount retailers, such as Costco, to accept food stamps, poor New Yorkers will have access to healthy food at more affordable prices. Costco president James Sinegal contacted Gioia's office to say he is considering it.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Included among these announcements was the unveiling of a new Paperless Office System (POS) Food Stamps Project, in which five pilot sites at soup kitchens and food pantries are now accepting applications for Food Stamps directly (see a map). The program, a collaboration between community partners, the City, FoodChange and the Coalition Against Hunger, has already enrolled 92% of the clients who have availed themselves of the service in the Food Stamps program.
Said Coalition executive director Joel Berg, "We are grateful to HRA, FoodChange, and our neighborhood-based partners for achieving significant success on this project in its very initial stage. So far, this joint project is truly a ‘win-win’ solution.”
(Update: this story was covered by the New York Post, WNYC, the Staten Island Advance, the Queens Gazette and the Brooklyn Downtown Star.)
Also notable in the public comments of this story is a variation on the old "food stamps buy steak and shrimp" myth. This myth has pervaded the public comment sections of many stories associated with last week's Food Stamps Challenge, often using similar language and style.
Peer-reviewed research on the Food Stamps program has concluded that participation does not affect diet negatively. Neither has any evidence been found that food stamps increase obesity and diet-related diseases, despite a multi-year panel convened by the USDA to examine just this question.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Gioia rightly opined: "Government can't promise that everyone will be rich, but it should guarantee that no child goes hungry."
Governor Spitzer has signed an executive order creating a New York State Council on Food Policy. Anti-hunger advocates, farmers, nutritionists, and other food related organizations see this announcement as a huge victory as they have been calling on the State to create such a council for many years. Executive director of the Coalition Against Hunger, Joel Berg, called Spitzer's order a "bold advance that will allow us all to better work together with State agencies to achieve our mutual goals of decreasing hunger, helping family farmers stay on their land, improving nutrition, bolstering our economy, and reducing obesity.” Read NYCCAH's press release here.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Rangel, the head of the House Ways & Means committee that is crucial to funding the enhancements, was quoted by the NY Daily News as supportive: "On questions of nutrition, health, education ... how do we explain to people that we are being fiscally responsible as their bodies and their minds fall apart?"
The Challenge was recently covered nationally by ABC News and The New Yorker as well as locally by WNYC, Gothamist and the Queens Tribune, Times-Ledger and Chronicle.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
This week the Coalition Against Hunger helped organize New York City's participation in the first National AmeriCorps Week. This inaugural event consisted of a full week of events and volunteer activities throughout the city performed by current AmeriCorps and
The purpose of National AmeriCorps Week is to bring more people into national service, as well as highlight the broad impact AmeriCorps has throughout the
Monday, May 14, 2007
Now halfway into his week on the Food Stamp Challenge, Gioia has gained 2 pounds due to having to buy the cheapest food, which also tends to be the least nutritious. On his limited food stamp budget, he is forced to buy carbohydrates and items such as "sandwich slices" that are full of excessive amounts of salt, fat, and calories. Dr. Lara Kross of Brooklyn's Long Island College Hospital looked at Gioia's shopping list for the week, and said that living on such a diet for a week would not be too harmful, "But if he was eating like this long-term, I would worry about an increase in cholesterol and high blood pressure. Heart disease could also be a problem."
Four U.S. Representatives, James McGovern (D-MA), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Jan Shakowsky (D-IL), and Tim Ryan (D-OH), have joined the Food Stamp Challenge and pledged to live on an average food stamp budget of just $3 a day from May 15-21, 2007. They have invited other Members of Congress to join them in the challenge.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
“We are extremely grateful that Council Member Gioia has taken on this vital challenge. He has long been a leader in the fight against hunger in
“None of us will spend the week pretending that we will truly know what it’s like to be hungry. However, this exercise will provide a stark demonstration of the extremely difficult choices that low-income New Yorkers are forced to take on a daily basis.”