By Bianca Fortis
New York state will provide $4.6 million in grants to emergency food providers during the holiday season in a move that should help some families in Queens.
The goal of the grants is to help fill the need left by recent cuts in federal programs, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made the announcement.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 had temporarily increased benefits provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, as a way to stimulate the economy. When that boost expired Nov. 1, the program was hit with $5 billion in cuts nationwide. New York state took a hit of about $300 million.
Low-income communities, as well as the food banks that serve them, have been struggling to fill the gap.
Cuomo said the grants will help to restock food banks and soup kitchens in Queens and around the city that have been strained by rising demand since the SNAP cuts went into place.
The cuts result in a family of four losing about $36 a month, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priority. The SNAP benefits now pay for less than $1.40 per meal person, according to the center.
“With the holiday season upon us, New York state is stepping up to help food banks and soup kitchens across the state stock their shelves and feed those in need,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The grants will go to 46 organizations across the state, 25 of which are in New York City. The funds are expected to help 2,600 food providers, including food banks, soup kitchens and food pantries. The grants can provide about 2.8 million meals, according to the governor’s office.
The SNAP program is facing even further cuts. House Republicans are attempting to gut another $40 billion from the program as a way to cut the federal deficit, a move many city lawmakers are against.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said the GOP’s proposed cuts are an affront to millions of low-income families, many of them headed by single women.
“House Republicans should not trim the deficit on the backs of the neediest Americans,” she said.
Cuomo also encouraged New Yorkers to donate food or volunteer their time at local food banks and food kitchens in the spirit of giving.
“A little can go a long way, and I encourage all who can to help those less fortunate this year,” he said.
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.