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The numbers are shocking, writes Catholic New York in this recent editorial:
In just five years, the number of New York City residents who depend on food pantries and soup kitchens has shot up to 1.4 million. That’s 200,000 more than in 2008 and it accounts for one-fifth of the city’s residents
And contrary to popular perception, the vast majority of those battling hunger are not the homeless.
They’re older women, they’re working families, they’re children and they’re veterans.
The appalling statistics: 1 in 5 city children live in food scarce homes; 1 in 6 city adults live in food scarce homes; 11.5 percent of people over 60 don’t have enough food, an increase of 33 percent since 2008; 64 percent of people relying on the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens are women; 95,000 food recipients are veterans.
The hunger crisis, and it is indeed a crisis, was spotlighted in lengthy and detailed coverage this week in the New York Daily News, which also pointed out the strains placed on the charitable agencies, many of them Catholic groups, who run the city’s network of some 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens.
Catholic New York
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of the Archdiocesan Catholic Charities, told the paper that people are turning to us for emergency help because it’s so hard for them to find jobs, or decent-paying jobs. Many, he added, don’t have enough to pay rent and to eat.
To lend an immediate hand and get personal insight he can share with legislators, Msgr. Sullivan is making the rounds, rolling up his sleeves and helping out at local food pantries affiliated with Catholic Charities. Last week he volunteered at St. Jerome’s pantry in the Bronx.
“It’s an astounding surge in need,” he said.
“While we’re a thriving metropolis that is proud of its rich culinary depth, New York has too many residents who are unable to even eat,” writes New York Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, in this editorial posted yesterday in the New York Daily News.
“More than a third of New Yorkers struggle to afford food. That means children are hungry at school, parents working multiple jobs cannot provide for their loved ones, and families must sometimes choose between putting food on the table and paying bills.
That should not be our New York. But since the Great Recession in 2008, food insecurity has been a growing reality. ..
A major tool in the fight against hunger is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. More than 1.8 million New Yorkers receive food stamps, contributing $3.5 billion to the city’s economy. But there are hundreds of thousands of others who are eligible for this aid but don’t receive it. Providing more language translation, removing application barriers and coordinating outreach are measures we will focus on.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every $1 in food stamps generates $1.79 in local economic activity. Not only are families suffering needlessly without access to these benefits, but low-income communities lose out on more than $1 billion each year in economic stimulus…
Reversing the tide against hunger will take a coordinated effort from lawmakers, community groups and everyday New Yorkers. Together, we can create an environment that reminds everyone why we are the greatest city on the planet: We look out for one another.”
At Catholic Charities, “looking out for one another” is what we are all about. For more than 100 years we have been fighting hunger and helping solve the problems of New Yorkers in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike. We help with emergency food programs throughout the City; including St. Jerome’s in the Bronx where Msgr. Sullivan pitched in to serve the hungry yesterday.
Recently, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and fellow Catholic Charities representatives met with Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli. We are working collaboratively with organizations across the City to intensively promote Food Stamp enrollment. And we are assigning case management staff to enroll qualified New Yorkers receiving food at our pantries into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps.)
Are you, your children or your family hungry? Call us at 888-744-7900
Or call the NYC 24- Hour Hunger Hotline at 1-866-NYC-FOOD (1-866-692-3663)
Read Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli’s full Op Ed in the New York Daily News.
“It’s a quiet crisis,” New York Daily News reporters Ginger Otis and Barry Paddock write in this in-depth exploration of hunger in New York. “In a city of plenty,” they continue in this front page story posted Sunday in the New York Daily News, “a staggering number of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families.”
Learn what they find out when they interview experts including Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, visit Catholic Charities food pantries and meet those we serve:
“Nearly one in five New Yorkers, 1.4 million people, now rely on a patchwork network of 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens across the city to eat.
That represents an increase of 200,000 people in five years — straining the charities that are trying to help…
Yet those working on the front lines of the hunger crisis say it’s still not enough.
‘It’s an astounding surge in need, and it’s because it is so hard for people to find jobs, or find a decent-paying job. They are turning to us for emergency help,’ said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, 63, executive director of 90 free food outlets run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
‘So many people, too many people, don’t have enough money to pay for rent and also eat.’
At (Catholic Charities’) Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry, bags packed with milk, juice, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, dry beans and other staples fly off the shelves.
Located in a small church vestry, the pantry is open one day a week, serving a steady clientele of 275 people. It could easily help three times as many, if only it had the food, volunteers said.
From soup kitchens in the Bronx, to mobile food markets on Staten Island and in Brooklyn, to pantries in Queens, the story is the same: lines stretching longer and longer, people arriving earlier and earlier, even in the depths of winter.
‘Our Lady of Grace, in the northeast Bronx, saw the number of new households double in November — a 100% increase,’ said Paul Costiglio, spokesman for Catholic Charities. “Across the board, our programs are reporting a continued increase in the number of working people, unemployed and families.”
Too many New Yorkers, too many good hard-working people, too many children, too many elderly parents, lack the resources to put food on the table.
Too many cannot afford basic nutrition — bread, milk, a piece of fruit, a portion of vegetables, a slice of meat. The stuff of survival, not the stuff of fun or frivolity…
These are our neighbors, family members and friends.
This is not New York, city of limitless opportunity. This is a New York that must do better.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – THE OPINION PAGES | LETTER
MARCH 3, 2014
To the Editor:
In the eclectic way I look at the morning news, I read these two articles back to back. Two numbers caught my attention: From the first article, apartments selling for as much as $95 million; and from the second article, the cost of two homeless shelter upgrades, $13 million.
Something is seriously wrong with this picture. We cannot refrain from demanding that we do better as a city, as a country and as a world. I am not looking to assign blame, but the end result is just plain wrong. I am more interested in identifying those who are willing to be responsible to help right the situation.
We don’t and we won’t live in a perfect world, but we have to do better. As a first step, let’s just reverse the numbers: Cap the apartment at $13 million, and provide $95 million for shelter upgrades. At least then we’d be moving in the right direction.
Msgr. KEVIN SULLIVAN
Executive Director, Catholic Charities
Archdiocese of New York