In 2010, nearly 2.8 million New Yorkers lived in poverty—14% of all New Yorkers—and 12.4% of residents struggled with food insecurity. In Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany, poverty rates are above 25% and over 2.3 million residents statewide rely on emergency food assistance annually. In response to the incredible and immediate need for food assistance in New York, RJV has identified protecting anti-hunger programs as one of our policy priorities this budget season.
Jewish tradition teaches us that we must fight hunger not individually, but rather by working together as a community. The Talmud explains that each Jewish community must establish a public fund to provide food for the hungry, and our sages explain that feeding the hungry is one of our most important responsibilities on earth.
Our tradition provides the bedrock on which RJV draws its commitment to supporting programs aimed at eradicating hunger in New York State. While Governor Cuomo’s recent budget proposal insufficiently addresses funding for some state anti-hunger programs such as the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP), we are grateful to see the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) taking steps to protect vulnerable New Yorkers from the devastating cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the federal Farm Bill. The number of people served by Emergency Food Programs (EFP’s) has doubled since 2007, but state funding for these crucial programs has been flatly funded at $30 million, despite a rapid increase in poverty and need for emergency food programs following the recession and recent cutbacks in SNAP funding.