- New York 11/24/2015 (WBAI)

The vast majority of people who are hungry are working or trying to work. This comes out of the new report by the Coalition against Hunger. It’s called Working but Hungry: Low Wages and Federal Cutbacks Keep NYC Hunger Sky-high. The report shows that one million NY residents live in households with at least one person working, yet food insecure, unable to consistently afford enough food.

And while Food pantries and soup kitchens have had to step up and provide food for low wage earners and their families, they are unable to fill the need according to Joel Berg, executive director of the Coaltion against Hunger.

According to Joel Berg, Executive Director of the NYC Coalition against Hunger, “Even though Wall Street is doing better, soup kitchens and food pantries are still struggling.  Some people have gotten marginal raises, so they are no longer eligible for SNAP – the new name for food stamps benefits, but that doesn’t mean they’re no longer hungry.

At the same time, there has been a reduction in SNAP benefits. In New York City, more and more people are still going to pantries because they just don’t earn enough to feed their families.  That’s why we continue to push so hard for raises in the minimum wage for all New Yorkers, so we can ensure if you’re working full-time, you can afford to feed your family.”

Eighty percent of New York City food pantries and soup kitchens reported that the SNAP cuts had increased the number of clients and/or increased the food needs of our existing clients. Half of them said they are unable to meet the demand.

In 2015 soup kitchens and food pantries faced a 5 % increase in demand, 7% increase in 2014, and 10% increase in demand in 2013 and more demand backwards in time to a 20% increase in demand in 2009.

Coupled with city data and near record levels of homelessness across the city, indications are that overall; the city’s economic recovery is not benefitting the lowest income residents.

“There are 50,000 people living in homeless shelters in New York City; more than of whom are children.  This is a huge systematized, structural problem that’s been increasing for decades and we need a huge response by creating jobs, raising wages, and ensuring that there’s adequate, affordable housing for all New Yorkers,” says Joel Berg.

According to Berg, a raise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour is needed, and that the American dream is seriously at risk unless we change our current economic and political policies. You can find the NYC Coalition against Hunger’s full report at

The public can call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1.866.3.HUNGRY to get food help. 

Linda Perry


WBAI News, New York 

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