An alarming new report from the Federal government shows that hunger is on the rise across the United States.
As the New York Times reported this week, a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report shows:
“The number of Americans who lived in households that lacked consistent access to adequate food soared last year, to 49 million, the highest since the government began tracking what it calls “food insecurity” 14 years ago….”
Obviously the severe econoomic recession and double-digit unemployment are the major reasons for the increase in hunger and food insecurity. But in New York City — where one in five families has an income below the Federal poverty line and where record numbers of homeless people crowd municipal shelters — finding sufficient food is a daily reality for far too many children and adults.
One major way to help struggling New Yorkers is to improve access to Food Stamps, which help low-income and working class families supplement their food purchases. Unfortunately, the Bloomberg administration has erected barriers that make it harder for many vulnerable people to obtain Food Stamps, including rules requiring finger-imaging of applicants. As an El Diario editorial recently noted:
“The Bloomberg administration requires all recipients of federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP)- what used to be known as food stamps – to provide a fingerprint. This places an unfair burden on families trying to access food, families who are legally entitled to nutrition assistance. And it is an unnecessary practice. While New York State mandates a finger image for cash assistance, it leaves it up to local governments when it comes to food stamps.”
The New York City Coalition Agaist Hunger found that New York City is one of only four cities nationwide that has this requirement. And it’s one that, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades, ought to be eliminated in order to improve access to vital food assistance.