Anti-hunger coalition also says one-sixth of NYC residents unable to buy meals regularly
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/26/2012 -- According to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, most food relief groups in the area have seen increases in the number of people they have served in the three weeks since Superstorm Sandy made landfall on October 29.
The non-profit group’s recent survey of about 100 New York area agencies running soup kitchens or food pantries or otherwise delivering emergency food aid found about two-thirds reported more people seeking their help since the destructive storm hit late in October.
Sandy left millions with electric power or mass transit for days, or in some hard-hit areas, for weeks. In some areas, flooding and power outages closed food stores, and forced residents who remained in the area to turn to city agencies and volunteer groups for hot meals.
Because of the storm, about one-third of surveyed agencies reported having lost food due to storm damage or power outages. Almost three-quarters of the agencies had to close or reduce their operating hours. In storm-battered borough of Staten Island, every agency responding to the survey reported running short of food to meet demand.
For the Bronx, 80% of food relief agencies said they had run short, while over 60% of food relief agencies in Brooklyn and Queens reported having had inadequate food supplies to help everyone seeking their services.
Even before the megastorm rocked the area, more New Yorkers were having difficulty feeding themselves regularly, according to the coalition’s annual report. In 2011, the coalition’s report noted, 1.7 million New Yorkers lived at or below the federal poverty line of $18,123 for a three-person household. That figure was up by about 100,000 people from the previous year.
The emergency food relief agencies surveyed also reported a 5% increase in service demands this year. More than half said increased demand forced them to take such steps as turning away aid seekers, cutting the size of portions, or reducing their hours of operation.
Coalition executive director Joel Berg commented, “Over the last few years, things have gone from bad to worse." The coalition report was based on federal statistics on hunger compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and a survey of more than 300 of New York City's food pantries and soup kitchens done this fall.
Berg, who planned to present the coalition’s full report over a two-day span, said his biggest worry was that “after the cameras go away, after some of the press conferences die down, low-income people will go back to being forgotten again, and funding for these long-term relief efforts will not be sustained.” He also called for creating living wage jobs so people would be paid enough to afford the basic cost of living in Manhattan.
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