Posts Tagged ‘SNAP’

Meet a Few Faces of Hunger

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

By Andrew Burton (GETTY)

By Alice Kenny

Timothy Cardinal Dolan joined a small army of Catholic Charities staff, board members and volunteers mobilized to hand out turkey and all the trimmings at the Catholic Charities annual Thanksgiving distribution to more than 400 needy New Yorkers on November 25 at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center in Harlem.

Recipients filling their shopping carts with everything from sweet potatoes to stuffing and fruit included Brenda Hugee, 53, a mother of four and former bank teller who is now disabled by Lupus, arthritis and three strokes.  They included Minerva Vega, 58, a widow who lost her job as a sanitation collector when she broke her neck lifting a garbage whose bottom, it turned out, had been filled with cement. They included Jose Costillo, 51, a former warehouse worker who lost his job last year.  And they included Elizabeth Vargas, who waitresses and babysits to support her three children, ages seven, one-and-a-half and six months old.

These are just a few of the faces of hunger who turn to Catholic Charities for help.  They include the unemployed and underemployed, families with children, seniors and the disabled.

During this historic time of need, more than 3 million people in New York State now turn to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to meet their family’s basic needs.

“I try not to ask for help and to make it on my own,” Ms. Hugee said. “If it weren’t for this we’d have rice and beans for Thanksgiving.”

Meet these faces of hunger in this powerful video:

 

 

 

Catholic Charities Honored with Food Bank Borough of Excellence Award!

Monday, February 17th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

 

The NYC Conference on Hunger and Poverty awarded this distinction to Catholic Charities Site Manager Carmen Reyes on January 22 for adapting Toyota’s proven method to turn Catholic Charities Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry into a model of efficiency.

Ms. Reyes credits her success to need, vision and teamwork.  But the key, she adds, was the contribution made by Walter Martin, a recent grad from Lafayette College with a degree in civil engineering.

 

Walter adapted Toyota’s “Kaizen” thought process– Japanese for “continuous improvement” — to analyze “where I am; where I need to be and how do I get from here to there.”

Less than two years ago, Washington Heights’ food pantry was characterized by lines that circled the block.

Now, thanks to Mr. Martin’s simple computer program, folks pick up food bank tickets in the morning and return at appointed hours.  They are warmly greeted by Ms. Reyes.  They receive their food in minutes.  And they receive case management services to help them live more independently.

Numbers quantifying the program’s success are astounding.  This food pantry that used to serve 50 people per hour now serves between 100 – 130 people.  Clients wait minutes, not hours, receiving food donations between 2 – 2.5 times faster.  And instead of just receiving donations, they now also get prescreened for SNAP (food stamps) and receive a range of support spanning from immigration referrals to help filing for tax returns.

As for the Kaizen model of continued self improvement, Carmen says she is not stopping with this success.

Her next plans?

She hopes to recruit volunteers to deliver groceries to the home bound, the elderly and the disabled.

Catholic Charities Speaks Against Devastating Cuts for Hungry New Yorkers

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Catholic Charities joined elected officials, religious leaders and advocates at St. Francis Xavier Church in Manhattan today to urge  U.S. senators to vote against the harsh cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The U.S. House Farm Bill would slash SNAP funding by $9 billion –  in addition to  $5 billion in SNAP cuts that went into effect on November 1st.

“The people standing here today fear greatly for what may be in store,” Catholic Charities Feeding Our Neighbors Director Jeanne McGettigan told the crowd.  “The system is already strained to the limit.  It isn’t designed to bear this type of burden.”

Catholic Charities food banks served 48% more meals in December 2013 compared with one year earlier.  Hungry families, children and the elderly are trudging to food banks and pantries even on the coldest days, including January 7 when temperatures dropped into the single digits and  New York officials urged everyone to stay home.

SNAP is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger.  More than half of SNAP recipients are children, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.  Meanwhile, low-wage workers who do not earn enough to afford sufficient food for their families make up an increasing number of SNAP recipients.

During this extended period of high unemployment, SNAP has helped millions of families afford the food they need.  It also supports our economy at every link in the food chain, from the farmer to the consumer.  Cutting SNAP puts jobs at risk in communities throughout New York.

Since the across-the-board cuts in SNAP took effect in November 2013, we have seen alarming levels of need created when benefits are reduced.  The new U.S. Farm Bill cuts will take away hundreds of millions of meals from struggling households and individuals.

Catholic Charities and others that make up the last line of defense against hunger – including food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens – cannot fill in such a gap.

“There can never be enough grants and food drives to fill this gaping need,” Ms. McGettigan said.

If you want to voice your opposition to these devastating cuts, contact the office of Senator Chuck Schumer and urge him to vote against the farm bill.

Read more in CNA/EWTN News

Feeding Our Neighbors Campaign

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

To confront the crisis of growing hunger in New York, we kick off today, Sunday, January 26, Feeding Our Neighbors.  This united campaign to fight hunger responds  to Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s call that we all do our part to replenish the food pantries and soup kitchens that so many families in our community rely on to survive.

To further this effort, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan just met with one of our state’s top elected officials, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, to share the Catholic Charities perspective on hunger and food insufficiency.  The Senator convened a very small policy roundtable this Sunday with leaders of food provider organizations and key advocates to discuss the impact of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cuts in New York.

More and more New Yorkers have been reaching out to soup kitchens to feed their families,  reports CBS News in this just-released report*:

  • New research released this week by the Food Bank for New York City reveals that most of the city’s food pantries have seen a sharp increase in visitors.
  • The trend follows a $5 billion national cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that went into effect Nov. 1.
  • The cuts affect nearly 2 millionNew York City residents who receive benefits from the program.

 

Feeding Our Neighbors, sponsored by organizations throughout the Archdiocese of New York and managed by Catholic Charities, will use 100% of contributions to the campaign to support local food pantries that serve New Yorkers, non-Catholic and Catholic alike.

Please join us in Feeding Our Neighbors.

The time is now, January 26th - Sunday, February 2nd  2014.

Take one small action to help feed the hungry.

Together, we can change lives.
Support a Fundraising Drive.

Donate through Catholic Charities and type “Feeding Our Neighbors” in the comments field.

Text “CCHOPE” to 85944 to make a quick $10 donation.


Feed the Big White Box.

Bring non-perishable foods to a “Feeding Our Neighbors” food drive at any Catholic parish in the New York Archdiocese, the Catholic Charities headquarters at1011 First Avenue, or anyArchdio cesan Catholic School.

 

*Check out the report on CBS news.

Filling Thanksgiving Plates

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Collaborating once again in a unified effort to tackle hunger, Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York kicked off our second joint Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response initiative on Sunday, November 24, 2013, at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood.  Volunteers assembled 750 Thanksgiving and Hanukkah–themed kosher food packages for distribution to low-income, homebound residents of Washington Heights through a Catholic Charities food pantry and UJA-Federation beneficiary agencies.

This marked the first in a series of specific efforts this season to strengthen the resources for food pantries so they can collect and distribute one million meals throughout New York during winter’s cruelest months.

In the five boroughs, hunger affects approximately 1.4 million individuals. In addition, approximately 2.6 million — or nearly one in three — New Yorkers experience difficulty affording food for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, approximately 1.9 million New Yorkers across all faiths and ethnic communities rely on SNAP, the food stamp program that undergone funding cuts.

Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response unites Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York, two of the largest faith-based, not-for-profit organizations to raise awareness about the issue of hunger and food insufficiency in the community. Through the shared values of “No hungry neighbor should be turned away” and “Let all who are hungry come and eat” the Catholic and Jewish communities collectively pledge to make a difference in the lives of those who are hungry and in need. The interfaith initiative stems from Catholic Charities’ Feeding Our Neighbors campaign, an effort to fight hunger by replenishing dwindling supplies in emergency food programs that continue to be stretched thin.

“Catholic Charities is proud to partner with UJA-Federation on this initiative to replenish the food pantries and soup kitchens in our community. Unfortunately, so many families in our community rely on these to survive,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “Over the next few months, with the disturbing cuts to SNAP, our joint projects are even more important for New York’s neediest.”

UJA-Federation and Catholic Charities will meet once again in January when Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Msgr. Sullivan and Dr. Ruskay will collect food packages outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral for distribution to a Catholic Charities food pantry and to a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency.

Watch this FOX 5 clip of the event 

See more on NY1 

Help us feed our neighbors.

 

 

 

 

Cutting the Lean from Food Stamps

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and fellow hunger advocates. Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan said, “Our Catholic inspiration for feeding the hungry can be traced back to Jesus feeding the hungry on a hillside at the end of a long day.” He went on to say, “the need is even more acute now. Hunger among poor New York families is so extensive that hundreds of thousands of children go to bed each night without enough nutritious food to eat. These children wake up hungry and have a hard time concentrating in school. Some of the critically important programs to deal with this are now threatened by cutbacks in funding. Food is a basic human need. Our neighbors cannot be allowed to go hungry.”

 

By Ginia Bellafante

Published in The New York Times October 4, 2013

If you live alone and receive $200 a month in food stamps (the maximum the government allows for a single person and the equivalent of $2.30 per meal), your budget remains unlikely to accommodate much of the healthy, essential, “good” food that in this city and so much of the country has become its own religion, at the levels of both culinary passion and public policy. We hail the fact that greenmarkets accept electronic benefit transfer cards, but availability and affordability are hardly tandem principles.

According to research by the Food Bank for New York City, the price of food in the New York metropolitan area rose by 16 percent between December 2007, the start of the recession, and the end of last year, with 32 percent of New Yorkers in 2012 reporting difficulty paying for the food they needed. Those dependent on government subsidies to supply their tables will feel these increases more harshly as cuts to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, as the food stamp program is called) go forward.

At the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine last week, advocates for the hungry including Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan initiated an effort to stop planned cuts in food stamps. The clock showed the time left before the cuts went into effect.

Read the full story here.  

 

Hunger Clock Countdown Projected on Saint John the Divine

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Photo: Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Catholic Charities joined The New York City Coalition Against Hunger and fellow anti-hunger advocates across the nation in projecting a “Hunger Clock” yesterday across the side of Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The clock, along with similar clocks nationwide, began a countdown to automatic cuts scheduled to start on November 1st to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps.)

Calling to restore funds and stop attempts to pass additional cuts, hunger advocates joined with religious leaders and elected officials to project “Hunger Clocks” that will tick down to the November 1st benefit reduction date. Advocates are also bracing for a significant additional disruption of hunger funding due to the federal government shut down.

Nearly two million New York City residents – 48 million people nationwide – who currently receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits face significant reductions in their food allotments on November 1st, when the federal “hunger clock” kicks in. The $39 billion in SNAP cuts now being debated by Congress would be in addition to the November 1st reduction. The majority of SNAP recipients are working parents, children, seniors and people with disabilities. In addition, the average length of time someone receives SNAP is currently less than one year.

The clock is ticking. 29 days now remain until all SNAP recipients see a reduction in benefits.

“There are basic human rights that all people are entitled to, the right to work, housing and adequate food,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan. “Government has a role, as do we, in safeguarding these rights. Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) would have devastating effects on our families and individuals already struggling to make ends meet.”

Government Shutdown Cuts Food Program for Women & Children

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

By Alice Kenny

WIC, the Women’s Infants and Children program that provides food for 9 million women and children, was shut down today after the House and Senate failed to agree on a bill to fund the federal government.

The clock is now counting down for cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP/food stamps – that provides food for millions of hungry Americans.

Advocating for the hungry, Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joins fellow anti-hunger advocates at 1 p.m. today to introduce a “Hunger Clock.” Displayed across the side of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the Hunger Clock will provide a countdown of days –30 today and ticking down– until all SNAP recipients see a reduction in their food benefits.

48 million Americans will see their SNAP benefits cut on November 1st. In addition, Congress has proposed $40 billion in SNAP cuts as part of the Farm Bill. The majority of SNAP recipients are working parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. In addition, the average length of time someone receives SNAP is currently less than one year.

Catholic Charities is here to help.  Catholic Charities supports a vast network of soup kitchens and food pantries to help homeless and individuals in need.  In any given year, Catholic Charities and its affiliated agencies provided 6,600,000 nutritious meals in parish and community food programs.


Looking of help?
Click here  or call us at the Catholic Charities Help Line: 888-744-7900.

Wonder what else is closed and open during the government shutdown?
Check out this updated News Channel 4 site.

Stop the Hunger Clock is a national, web-based campaign aimed at drawing attention to these pending cuts.
Click here to learn more.

Electrocuted During Hurricane Sandy, Survivor Struggles to Recover

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Leaning on his black cane, Fujimoto Takashi, 64, struggles to pronounce words that convey the terror he felt the afternoon his basement apartment in Midland Beach, Staten Island, morphed into a whirlpool of chairs, refrigerator, motion and mementos.

Born in Hiroshima four years after the atom bomb was dropped there, Mr. Takashi already knew devastation first hand.  He grew up believing, he said, that if he could make his way to the United States he would find a safe place to thrive.

For a long time, his plan seemed to work.  Mr. Takashi moved to California in 1977.  He developed a career as a photographer.  And he later made his home in Staten Island.

Never did he suspect, he said, that a disaster spurred by nature and not by man would nearly kill him. But when Hurricane Sandy tore through Staten Island, the subsequent flooding inside his basement apartment electrocuted and nearly drowned him.  It destroyed his health, his home and his means of making a living.

“Growing up in Hiroshima I helped other people and felt their pain; now others are feeling my pain,” Mr. Takashi said.  “Catholic Charities gave me the encouragement I needed to not give up.”

Monday, October 29, began like most days, Mr. Takashi said.  He was fixing a camera light plugged into the wall of in his Andrews Street apartment.

Suddenly he noticed water pouring in under his front door.  He grabbed for the camera light plug.

But it was too late.  Electrical currents bore through his right calf.  They shot in one end, out the other and left a hole as their memento.   He suffered a stroke, he recalled, then passed out.

He awoke to the taste of salt water, bouncing on furniture that floated five feet above the floor.  His right arm and leg no longer functioned.

“Help me!” Fuji shouted.

Hurricane winds and neighbors’ panic smothered his screams.  Night came and went. Fifteen hours passed.  Water receded.  His energy waned.

Finally, at 10:30 the following morning, his landlord knocked on his door.

Much of what happened next is blur, he said.  An ambulance rushed him to some hospital – he can’t remember which.  Later he was transferred to Staten Island University Hospital. For 38 days doctors treated burns that covered much of his body and physical and mental repercussions from his stroke.  Finally, he was transferred to Golden Gate Nursing Home where therapists began teaching him how to walk again.

After two months in a hospital and rehabilitation center, he was released to go home.

But everything had changed.  Hurricane Sandy stole much of his memory and mobility.  It destroyed his photographic equipment, stealing his livelihood.  And it tore apart his home, leaving his furniture, clothing – all he owned – rotting and covered with mold.

“When I came back home I had nothing,” Mr. Takashi said.

His landlord gave him a blanket and an air mattress.  But the mattress leaked.

“It was like sleeping on the floor,” Fuji added.

Fortunately, an associate of Fuji’s learned of his plight and called Catholic Charities for help.

Catholic Charities Staten Island has taken a leadership role in partnering with nonprofit organizations to speed services and support to residents of this borough devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  From disaster-response professionals who visit parishes to deliver information and resources, to volunteers who collect and distribute food and supplies, to neighbors checking in on neighbors, the entire Catholic Charities community responded, providing help, creating hope and rebuilding lives.

Since Mr. Takashi’s stroke left him wheelchair bound and confused, Catholic Charities Case Manager Marvin Walker visited him in his home.  Mr. Walker helped Mr. Takashi apply successfully for a variety of grants and subsidies including new furniture from Project Hospitality, appliances from the Staten Island Back to Basics initiative, gift cards to cover necessities from the Siller Foundation, help paying heating bills from the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and disaster recovery financial assistance from FEMA.  He helped Mr. Takashi apply for Access-a-Ride, bus rides catered for persons with disabilities.  And he gave Mr. Takashi food from Catholic Charities food pantries along with clothing, pots, pans, utensils and other household necessities.

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities Volunteer Services paired Fuji up with Catholic Charities Anderson Avenue Senior Director Marni Caruso.  She volunteered to drive Mr. Takashi during her personal time to medical appointments and meetings with the numerous government agencies that suddenly play a large role in his life.

Fuji’s road to recovery remains long and difficult.  He has progressed from wheelchair to walker to cane.  Many memories remain hazy.  His finances remain tight.

“I never thought I would have to depend on others,” Fuji says.  “But without Catholic Charities I couldn’t have survived.”