Demand at food pantries increasing

Nearly 90 percent of Queens agencies have seen an increased demand for food and a troubling 58 percent of those agencies said the food they had was not enough to meet the growing demand, according to a new report.
The New York City Coalition Against Hunger came out with a survey entitled “Hungry New Yorkers Barely Hang On,” that showed demand at city food pantries and soup kitchens increased by 6.8 percent this year on top of the 20.8 percent increase seen in 2009.
The survey found that in 2010, the SNAP/Food Stamp Program will provide more than $3.2 billion in federal funding for food purchases in New York City, which was a $1.35 billion increase over 2008.
“In what is still the richest city in the history of the world, it is unacceptable that more than half of the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens do not have enough food and money to meet the growing demand,” said Joel Berg, Executive Director of the City Coalition Against Hunger. “It is no wonder that one in eight state residents now face food hardship, with most barely hanging on. The only bit of good news is that the massive increase in federal nutrition assistance in New York prevented a full-blown hunger catastrophe.”
According to the survey, 80.4 percent of responding Queens agencies believe that the need will continue to increase in the next six months, while 46.3 percent believe it will increase greatly during that period.
“Food pantries and kitchens are on the front lines of keeping our city fed,” said Queens Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, who represents neighborhoods in western Queens. “It is important now more than ever, that we make sure that not only people know what services are available to them but we work to keep our food pantries and kitchens funded and running.”