November 28, 2001
Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
(518) 455-5203
Assemblyman Fights for Increased Federal Help for Hungry

(Albany, NY) Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy, wrote to New York's two U.S. Senators asking them to support expansion of benefits in the re-authorization of the federal Food Stamp program and increased funding for emergency food programs. Ortiz has worked to fight hunger in New York by leading the effort to increase State funding for food assistance programs and sponsoring legislation to increase participation in the Food Stamp and school breakfast programs.

A report released last week by the NYC Foodbank, Food for Survival, Inc. found that 1.5 million New Yorkers rely on food pantries and soup kitchens. Almost 34% were children and 21% were seniors. Since September 11th, area food programs reported that 64% of new recipients are using these services for the first time ever. This surge in demand has resulted in thousands of families and individuals being turned away from overwhelmed food programs, as evidenced by the NYC Coalition Against Hunger's survey, which revealed a potential 500% increase in people not served compared to last year. At the same time, less than 50% of New Yorkers eligible for Food Stamps are receiving them; less than 30% of seniors who need home-delivered meals are being served; and, many children who could receive school breakfasts and summer meals are not taking advantage of these opportunities.

In his letter to Senators Clinton and Schumer, Ortiz asked for the following improvements to the Food Stamp program:

  • provide three more months of transitional Food Stamps for families moving off welfare;
  • help benefits keep up with inflation and address the needs of the poorest families;
  • restore eligibility for low-income working legal immigrants and their families;
  • extend time limits for unemployed adults by an additional three months;
  • simplify the program for state administrators and participating families; and,
  • reform the Quality Control system.

"The increased reliance on donated food has occurred as participation in the Food Stamp program dropped. Too many families, especially immigrants, lost their nutrition insurance because of the changes made to Food Stamps as part of welfare reform. Reauthorization of the Food Stamp program is occurring and we need to make improvements so that our constituents can choose nutritious food at stores and help our local economies instead of waiting in line at an overburdened church food pantry," Ortiz wrote.

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Task Force Updates ]