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Report Shows That Thousands of New Yorkers are Going Hungry
New York Daily News
Albor Ruiz

January 23, 2011
View the Original Article

Unemployment is sky-high, the economy is still in shambles and food is so expensive that it has become a luxury item for thousands of New Yorkers. Yet, economists and politicians keep proclaiming the recession is over.

But a new report on hunger in the city, tells the real story. And it is not pretty.

The Food Bank for New York annual survey, titled "Less Food on the Table," makes clear what a jobless economic recovery means for low-income New Yorkers, said the group's President and CEO Lucy Cabrera.

"I think the findings in the report give us some pause and remind us that the road to recovery will be a long and difficult journey for the millions of New Yorkers who are still living with the effects of the recession," Cabrera warns those who believe the Great Recession, and the hardships it imposes, has ended.

Many New Yorkers have no choice but to seek help from organizations such as the Food Bank and its network of soup kitchens and food pantries, she added.

The citywide poll, conducted with the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, found that the lowest-income New Yorkers have no savings to speak of due to the recession, and as a result, are extremely vulnerable to food poverty.

Another worrisome finding is that one out of three city residents have been forced to reduce their food intake while 29% have had to sacrifice food quality to get by financially.

Even more telling is that approximately one out of every four was forced to choose between paying for food and transportation or between food and housing.

"This report clearly shows that New Yorkers are still facing serious difficulty when it comes to affording food despite reports that the economic recession is over," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "In one of the greatest cities in the world, no one should have to wonder where their next meal will come from."

The fact that the Food Bank found that nearly one-third of New Yorkers - half of whom have never sought food assistance before - are concerned about needing it in the next 12 months, speaks volumes about the hard realities people face even though the recession is supposed to be over.

Unemployment, lack of health insurance, high cost of living and low wages continue to make life difficult for low to moderate income New Yorkers.

Lines have been growing longer at soup kitchens and food pantries since the beginning of the recession in Dec. 2007, with more than 90% of them reporting an increase in the number of new clients last year, according to Cabrera. With food prices steadily rising, struggling New Yorkers find it difficult to buy food for themselves and their families.

"Despite talk of recovery there appears to be no letup in sight," Cabrera said. "Unemployment rates are still more than double what they were at the onset of the recession; more families have long since spent down their savings and are relying on our services just to keep basic food on the table."

What the Food Bank report makes clear is what millions of New Yorkers already know - the recession is far from over. And that it won't be over until people have decent-paying jobs that will allow them to afford needs as basic as food, housing, transportation, and medical care.

As long as that is not the case, all the talk about the end of the Great Recession is so much hot air.