Today, 48 Council Members called on Mayor de Blasio to increase funding for emergency food in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The letter, authored by Council Members Levin and Grodenchik, highlighted that more than 1.4 million New Yorkers depend on emergency food to survive, accessing healthy, nutritious food through providers such as food pantries and soup kitchens. Meals provided include all five food groups and meet the City’s rigorous nutrition standards. The program is also an important source of emergency food that is kosher and that meets halal standards.
Increased funding is critical to meet the growing demand for emergency food by New Yorkers in need. Since November 2013, the need for emergency food has escalated dramatically. Because of cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, vulnerable New Yorkers have lost more than 116 million meals annually. Demonstrably, emergency food providers reported that in 2015, their resources have often been depleted:
- Nearly half of providers ran out of food for adequate pantry bags or meals;
- Providers had to turn away 10 percent more hungry New Yorkers due to food shortages; and
- 45% of food pantries had to reduce the amount of food in pantry bags.
However, rather than growing to meet demand, the amount allocated to emergency food in the Mayor’s budget has been reduced to Fiscal Year 2015 levels. This reduction leaves the program ill-equipped to address a growing need across the five boroughs. In fact, New York City faces an annual meal gap of 241 million meals annually. I will continue to advocate for funding that will close this meal gap and ensure that no New Yorker is turned away from the food that they and their families need to survive.