Food Stamp Shortfall Linked to Homelessness

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Abrahami/Adi Talwar/City Limits

The gap between the typical cost of a family's food and average food stamp benefits may be one reason New York City has seen near-record numbers of families at place like the Department of Homeless Services' PATH intake center (right).
While it doesn't endear him to the food-stamp-hatin' Newt Gingrich crowd, Mayor Bloomberg's expansion of the federal nutrition benefit might rank as one of the signal accomplishments of his mayoralty. From January 2003 to the first month of this year, the number of New Yorkers receiving food stamp benefits increased from 830,000 to more than 1.8 million, a leap of 118 percent.

But a new report by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness finds that food stamps are still having a less beneficial impact than you might think—for reasons beyond Bloomberg's control. The study concludes that the average food stamp benefit covers only part of a family's food bill in New York City, meaning food stamp recipients might still have to choose between dinner and rent.


Cuomo Calls For Easier Food Stamp Access

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Marc Fader/City Limits

The governor's annual speech cataloged the accomplishments of the Democrat's first year in office.
Echoing a call made by anti-hunger advocates for years, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday argued for the elimination of the requirement that most food stamp applicants be fingerprinted before receiving benefits.

Advocates have long said the requirement was an unnecessary barrier, and in his annual State of the State speech, the governor agreed. "For all of our progress, there are still basic wrongs to right. There is never an excuse for letting any child in New York go
to bed hungry," he told a crowd of legislators, mayors and other dignitaries. "We must increase participation in the food stamp program, remove barriers to participation, and eliminate the stigma associated with this program. And we must stop fingerprinting for food."


The Cheerios Index: Do the Poor Pay More for Food?

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Kiera Feldman/City Limits

In our informal survey, bread prices were generally higher in areas with higher rates of poverty.
Last week, the Census Bureau released new data announcing that 15.1 percent of Americans now live in poverty—the highest rate since 1993. According to the New York Coalition Against Hunger (NYCAH), the numbers are about the same in New York State, and the last six years has seen a 56 percent increase in New Yorkers going hungry.

With poverty and hunger on the rise in New York, are the poor paying more for staples like milk and bread? Supermarkets are fewer and farther between in impoverished neighborhoods, making higher prices likely thanks to supply and demand. Using Census data, City Limits went comparison shopping at grocery stores in Brooklyn neighborhoods with some of the highest and lowest poverty rates in the borough.