Food Charities and Anti-Hunger Advocates Push Back on Industry Opponents of Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Ban on Styrofoam Containers


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Nicole Aber, (646) 627-7741           

Food Charities and Anti-Hunger Advocates Push Back on Industry Opponents of Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Ban on Styrofoam Containers

Food charities and anti-hunger advocates across New York State pushed back today against claims made by the chemical industry that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed ban on single-use Styrofoam products would somehow harm hungry New Yorkers. Food organizations indicated that it would be easy for their organizations to comply with such a law.

This proposal would ban the distribution and use of expanded polystyrene foam containers used for prepared foods or beverages served by food service establishments, including restaurants, caterers, food trucks, retail food stores, delis, and grocery stores.

When fighting against environmental regulations, industry opposition often cites the supposed negative impact of such regulations upon low-income people as a reason to oppose them. However, a large body of research has found that low-income communities suffer the worst impacts of pollution and environmental degradation.

Denny Marsh, Executive Director of Neighbors Together, a Brooklyn-based soup kitchen and social services agency, said: “We made the switch away from Polystyrene containers for environmental purposes, and it has been a smooth transition for us financially. We have been able to identify compostable alternatives to Styrofoam at affordable price points.”

“I am pretty tired of large chemical corporations and their lobbyists using false premises – especially false premises regarding low-income people – to justify profit-making operations that foul the environment and endanger the health of all of us,” said Joel Berg, CEO Hunger Free America, a nationwide advocacy and direct service organization based in New York City.

Julia Tedesco, President and CEO of Foodlink, a food bank and public health organization based in Rochester, said: “We cannot think of food justice and environmental issues as separate. They are different parts of the very issue that we work on every day at Foodlink: ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy life regardless of their income or neighborhood.”

“Hunger-relief organizations, like Island Harvest Food Bank, are environmental organizations, too, in that our efforts of redistributing surplus food to people who need it reduce the amount of food that ultimately ends up in landfills. Reducing the volume of food waste in landfills lessens the amount of methane gas produced, which in turn helps decrease the volume of greenhouse gas produced. A ban on Styrofoam is consistent with our mission, and we support alternative food packaging that is not only environmentally friendly, but also allows hunger relief agencies the ability to safely transport excess food on to the tables of people who need it the most,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, President & CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank, Long Island’s largest hunger-relief organization.

“Our 22,000 hungry customers at West Side Campaign Against Hunger demand the best food, the best support, and the best service for themselves and for the entire community. This action is long overdue across many industries in NY and beyond to safeguard a healthy and safe future for all,” stated Chef Greg Silverman, Executive Director of West Side Campaign Against Hunger, a large food pantry in Manhattan.