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New Food Hardship Data Impacts NY

"Food Hardship" is a growing problem in America.  New data from FRAC - the Food Research and Action Center - shows 1 in 6 of us can't afford to buy enough food for ourselves or our families. Those studying FRAC's report blame the economy and say government isn't doing enough to fill a growing need.

FRAC found that nationally the food hardship rate was 18.2 percent in 2012. Among states, New York ranked 26th overall. Massachusetts came in 41st, Conn. 45th and Vermont 50th. 17.7 percent of New York respondents reported not having enough money to buy food during the same timespan.

Mark Dunlea, executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, says three years into "recovery" from the Great Recession, lines at food pantries and soup kitchens have grown longer. Dunlea is concerned that food stamp benefits are too low to last an entire month - he'd like to see the process to apply for food stamps simplified.

Dan Moran, president and founder of job placement firm Next-Act of Colonie, says as the recession drags on, the day-to-day job outlook remains stagnant.  Moran and Triada Stampas, Senior Director of Government Relations at Food Bank For New York City, are concerned about the negative impacts of sequestration. In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged to end childhood hunger by 2015. The activists argue that now-President Obama is not even close. A

Hunger activist groups agree raising New York's minimum wage would help: Mark Dunlea traces the current hunger problems all the way back to the Reagan Administration. Although it has been said New York's Emergency Food Supply is falling short, no one can pinpoint how long the existing store can adequately provide -  Triada Stampas says once benefits are cut, 3 million New Yorkers currently depending on food programs will be impacted.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office did not return calls for comment.

Read FRAC’s food hardship report – Food Hardship in America 2012 (pdf)

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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