NYC Food Pantries at ‘Crisis’ Level

Food Bank’s network serves around 1.4 million New Yorkers per year. (Photo via Manhattan Times)

“Draconian cuts” in food assistance for needy New Yorkers will put food pantries and soup kitchen on a “crisis” footing, writes Gregg McQueen in Manhattan Times. The Food Bank for New York City issued a new report on Feb. 7, McQueen says, that “detailed that thousands of New Yorkers could lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits due to a federal policy imposing a three-month time limit on participation for unemployed SNAP recipients without dependents.”

With additional federal SNAP cuts threatened by the House of Representatives, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary 2018 budget excising $4.9 million from the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), anti-hunger advocates envision a supply shortage for the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens that will cause hardships for New Yorkers in need.

“Food pantries and soup kitchens are the last line of defense against hunger,” said Margarette Purvis, Food Bank president and chief executive officer. “They are where people turn when they have no other resource.”

Purvis said that additional slashes to federal SNAP funding could cause New Yorkers to lose $8 billion dollars over five years in food assistance funding.

The cuts in assistance come on the heels of three years of cutbacks, while demand for food assistance has grown. Through 1,000 food pantries the Food Bank serves about 1.4 million New Yorkers a year.

The food supply can’t keep up with demand, and half of food pantries run out of food within any given month, Purvis said.

“The network’s greatest resource is its capacity to service, but you cannot serve from empty shelves,” remarked Purvis. 

Go to Manhattan Times to read reports from the directors of two food pantries in the Bronx that are unable to meet local demand.

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