One Million Already Living in Hunger Before Sandy

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger found that Hurricane Sandy only worsened already troubling levels of hunger in the city.

Hurricane Sandy strained emergency food providers and low income New Yorkers, but 1.4 million residents, or 1 in 6, were already going hungry before the storm hit, the Amsterdam News reported.

They had been enduring what the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH), Joel Berg, called, “a perpetual storm of hunger long before Hurricane Sandy.” He went on to say, “It should be considered a national scandal that, before the storm, one in four of our children and one in 10 of our seniors struggled against hunger.”

The facts emerged from a report, “The Perpetual Storm: NYC Food Insecurity Before – and After – Hurricane Sandy,” released by the NYCCAH, which looked at how Hurricane Sandy affected levels of hunger in the city.

The report outlines that before the storm, 328,294 Brooklyn residents, 321,655 Queens residents and 533,825 Bronx residents lived in households without enough food. After the storm, 85 percent of Brooklyn emergency food providers surveyed were forced to temporarily close or suspend operations while Queens reported that 50 percent of emergency food providers were in the same situation.

Although the Bronx was not the most physically affected of the five boroughs, 32 percent of survey respondents were impacted by the storm, most of them experiencing delayed or canceled food deliveries to their agencies.

Before Hurricane Sandy, food providers were already struggling, as reported last year in joint-coverage by City Limits and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. The Amsterdam News also cited details from the report on those struggles.

Other findings in the report include that almost 11 percent of the responding agencies said they knew of a food pantry, soup kitchen or brown bag program that shut down or closed for business in the past year before Sandy. Thirty-four percent of emergency food providers reported their staff or volunteers sometimes used their own personal money to fund their feeding program.

The NYCCAH is also asking Washington to help combat hunger.

In addition, the organization has launched a nationwide campaign to ask President Barack Obama to recommit to his pledge to end U.S. child hunger by 2015. The campaign is asking for support for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal to increase the purchasing power of SNAP recipients, a vow to veto any farm bill or other legislative measure that further cuts SNAP benefits, expand funding—or at least prevent further cuts—in the WIC program and include in all economic policies an intense focus on creating living-wage jobs for all low-income families.

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