FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Nicole Aber, 646-627-7741
City’s Child Hunger has more than Doubled During Crises
Schumer, Gillibrand Call for SNAP Increase in Next Relief Bill
Mayor de Blasio: “Hundreds of Thousands of Meals” Delivered
Advocates: “Wake Up Call That Charitable Food Efforts Are Insufficient”
Child hunger is soaring across New York City during the current health and economic crises, with 38 percent of parents cutting the size of meals or skipping meals for their children because they did not have enough money for food in the last month, according to a new study by the nonprofit organization, Hunger Free America.
In 2016-2018, when the overall economy was relatively strong, more than 16 percent of the city’s children lived in food insecure homes. Advocates attributed this two-fold hike in the city’s child hunger to the loss of hundreds of thousands of school meals each day coupled with a massive reduction in income for parents.
Said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, “New York City has engaged in unprecedented efforts to find alternative ways to provide school meals, as well as meals to adults, and those results are ramping up by the day. Food charities across the city have tried to continue their heroic work to fill in some gaps in the nation’s safety net, even though many have been forced to close because many are staffed by older New Yorkers. But the soaring child hunger found by this study is a wake-up call that all the city’s emergency food responses are wholly inadequate in the gargantuan scope of this crisis. We need a massive, coordinated federal, state, and local government response that dramatically expands government food safety net programs and uses National Guard units and national service participants to ramp up home meal deliveries.”
In response to this data, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We won't let any New Yorker go hungry. Our team is working around the clock to get food into the hands of anyone who needs it as the economic crisis deepens. In the past month, we have provided three free meals a day at over 400 Meal Hubs at our public schools, announced millions in emergency funding for struggling food pantries, and delivered hundreds of thousands of meals to seniors and homebound adults.”
The study also found that, among NYC adults, 34 percent skipped meals or cut portions because they lacked enough money for food. That’s nearly three and a half times the adult hunger rate of 2018. Forty-seven percent of NYC households said their income dropped in the last month, and over half of families said they are either having trouble meeting basic expenses now or are worried that they won’t be able to pay their bills if the economic and health crises continue much longer.
This data was collected on behalf of Hunger Free America, through a survey of 318 New York City residents conducted by Kupersmit Research, a Colorado-based strategic research firm.
The study was released in the midst of a heated battle between Congressional Democrats and President Trump and Congressional Republicans over whether a new federal relief bill should include a 20-cent-per-meal increase in funding for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, as well as whether the bill should block the Trump Administration’s attempts to slash the program.
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said, “It is unacceptable that any child, senior or needy person should ever have to go hungry during this crisis. That is why I will continue to fight to include a benefit increase to SNAP, our main program to stave off hunger. It puts more food on hungry families’ tables – and helps our farmers in this time of need. Increasing SNAP should be a no brainer to help communities get through this health crisis.”
“The SNAP program provides a lifeline for families facing financial hardship,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “As the unemployment rate climbs daily, it is imperative that Congress increase the SNAP benefits available. Not only will hungry children and seniors benefit, but so will our farmers, as more money will be available to buy their fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Nationwide, according to a nationwide survey by Hunger Free America, 70 percent of Americans support increasing SNAP, 17 percent want funding left the same, and only 3 percent want the program cut. In other words, 20 times as many people want to boost SNAP as those who want to cut it. Even among Republicans and even in red states, support for increasing SNAP funding was strong.
Continued Berg, “Given that adequate SNAP benefits stave off mass hunger and help keep U.S. food stores and farms in business, it is no wonder that the program is wildly popular. Even if there are still political leaders who are unwilling to increase food aid because it’s the right thing to do both morally and economically, they should do so because voters will exact a harsh vengeance on leaders who block this life-saving assistance.”
When asked who should pay for health care for COVID-19 victims, 70 percent of Americans nationwide said the federal government should make all treatment and testing free, 21 percent said the federal government should make such care more affordable and only 4 percent said the federal government should not help at all. Regarding long-term health care policies, 81 percent of respondents support Medicare for All, a government-run public option, or keeping Obamacare as it is, versus only 7 percent who supported ending Obamacare.
In response, Benjamin Kupersmit, president of Kupersmit Research, said: “Just months ago, Hunger Free America released a survey showing huge support among working people of all backgrounds for a strong safety net, because they feared the possibility of a crisis in which they would lose their jobs and have no backup plan. This crisis is now here, and politicians who scrimp on SNAP funding, or block the government from guaranteeing health care to all Americans in this crisis and beyond, do so at their own peril."
Hunger Free America is an advocacy and direct service organization dedicated to creating the policies and program needed to end domestic hunger. The public can go to the organization’s website, at www.hungerfreeamerica.org, to access food help, donate funds, or volunteer remotely.