Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Census Reveals NYC Poverty Spike

According to new data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people living in poverty in New York City increased to 1.54 million people, even as there was a slight dip in the number of people in poverty nationwide. The New York City Coalition Against Hunger held a press conference yesterday afternoon to bring attention to these new statistics. The number of poor New Yorkers has increased by 151,000 since 2000 - in every borough except for Manhattan. About one in five city residents now live below the federal poverty line, which equals a family of three surviving on an income of $16,600 per year. Brooklyn, the borough with the most poor people, had an increase of 85,000 people in poverty from 2000 to 2006. While poverty rates soared, the number of people receiving public assistance dropped by 241,388.

The new data was released the same day New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a speech in Washington, DC, about his poverty initiative to increase Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) payments for single men. While advocates greatly laud the mayor's initiatives and his insistence that poverty can be solved and with government taking the lead, they still note that more can be done when there are 1.5 million city residents living in poverty.

The press conference was held at Child Development Support Corporation in Brooklyn with City Council member Letitia James, Bill de Blasio, Chair of the General Welfare Committee of the City Council, and Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

It was covered by the NY Times, Daily News, Daily News Brooklyn, Daily News Boroughs, El Diario, WNBC4, the Metro, WNYC, Gothamist, NY1, News12, the Queens Chronicle, and the New York Press.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

NY Post - No Hungry Children in New York

The NY Post followed up on its article covering the Coalition Against Hunger's press conference on the low rate of school breakfast participation in New York City with an editorial - Books Before Breakfast - in which it states that participation is low because children are actually "not hungry". According to the New York Post, "Hunger is simply not a problem in New York City" , a conclusion echoing its previous, "nobody of sound mind goes hungry in New York" statement. The Post denies that poverty and hunger are in an issue in New York City, but yet also covered NYCCAH's press conference and recently published an article, "NY Kids In Terrible Poverty". Joel Berg, executive director of the Coalition, wrote a letter to the editor of the Post, which, as with letters in the past, went unpublished. An excellent response to the Post's editorial was also blogged by The Neighborhood Retail Alliance.

Joel Berg's unpublished letter to the editor of the NY Post:

To the Editor, NY Post:

Your editorial, "Books Before Breakfast" - opposing calls to expand school breakfast participation among low-income children in the city - missed the point.

When kids eat breakfast in a classroom instead of a lunch room that is a hallway or two away, that gives them more time to focus on their studies. A vast amount of research proves that children who eat breakfast have higher test scores, fewer school nurse visits, and act up less in class. It makes no sense to say that children should get either books or breakfast - they
should obviously get both.

But more absurd than your opposition to school breakfast is your continued
insistence that child hunger isn't a problem in New York. Even the Bush Administration released data proving that one in five of the city's children live in homes without enough food. Not only that, children are one of the fastest growing populations forced to use the city's more than 1,200 soup kitchens and food pantries. The Post's denial reminds me of an old Chico Marx line: "Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?"

- Joel Berg
Executive Director
New York City Coalition Against Hunger

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

NYCCAH Holds Press Conference to Bring Awareness to NYC's Trailing School Breakfast Participation

The Coalition Against Hunger held a press conference yesterday at City Hall to bring attention to the low rate of school breakfast participation in New York City. The Coalition brought together leading elected officials and anti-hunger advocates to comment on a new national study that finds that New York City trails virtually every other large city in the nation in school breakfast participation, even with one in five New York City children living in food insecure homes.

The study by national anti-hunger group, the Food Research and Action Center, found that New York has the second lowest participation rate out of 23 large American cities. Breakfast participation has increased by six million meals over the last three and a half years owing largely to the Bloomberg administration's adoption of universal school breakfast, as well as experimenting in allowing children to eat breakfast in their classrooms.

Even so, 80% of low income City public school students fail to receive school breakfasts, and only 29% obtain school lunches as opposed to 98% in Portland, Oregon, 94% in Newark, and 64% in Boston. Higher participation rates were linked to districts where school breakfast was made more available in the classroom, unlike New York where students have to go to a separate lunchroom to eat. Joel Berg, executive director of NYCCAH, called on the city to increase participation by allowing breakfast to be served in the classrooms. Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), State Senator Carl Kruger, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, City Councilman Eric Gioia, and City Councilman David Weprin joined Berg in calling for increased efforts to boost school meals participation.

The conference was covered by the New York Times, New York Post, WNYC, NY1, News12 Brooklyn and Bronx, El Diario, DailyNews1, DailyNews2, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and the Staten Island Advance.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Farm Fresh Produce Comes to West Harlem

Yesterday a partnership of groups - including the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, Hunger Action Network of New York State, West Harlem Action Network Against Poverty, United Way and Just Food - gathered with elected officials and West Harlem residents on the historic campus of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to inaugurate the first year of the Farm Fresh project.

The pioneering, three-year initiative is designed to simultaneously fight hunger and obesity in New York City by connecting low-income residents to regional farmers through cooperative buying groups, farmers’ markets, and innovative uses of the federal Food Stamp Program.

Hoy, NY Press, All Things Considered (Hour 2, 38:00)