Today’s protest was in response to last week’s passing by the House of Representatives of the Agriculture Appropriations Act, which included:
- $650 million, or 10%, in cuts to the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program that could result in up to 19,500 low-income New York women and children losing assistance next year;
- $38 million (22 percent) in cuts to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides nutritious food packages to more than 600,000 low-income families, 96 percent of whom are seniors, every month; and
- $51 million in cuts to The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP, which provides our nation’s emergency food bank network with food commodities and storage and distribution support.
“We all know we have to get our financial house in order,” said Lowey. “But it is indefensible to make such severe cuts to food assistance, which is critical for thousands of New Yorkers, particularly those who are most vulnerable. These cuts will mean fewer senior citizens, pregnant women, infants, and children will be able to access the nutritious food they need to remain healthy. The Republican majority must stop slashing this lifeline for millions of Americans facing economic hardship.”
Lowey’s comments and concerns were echoed by Myers, Nonna and Shimsky. Nonna described the cuts as shortsighted by people who are not looking at the long-term effects of food deprivation and hunger. Myers said that many people don’t realize there’s a hunger problem in Westchester. Lowey agreed: “People in Washington are surprised to learn that here in Westchester County 9% of households struggled to meet their family’s food needs over the last year.”
Shawn Patterson-Howard, executive director of the Yonkers Family YMCA, which was recently named the 2011 Hunger Hero Service Provider by the Food Bank for Westchester, stated that her agency’s food program served 77,400 hot meals last year and handed out 1,700 BackPack bags of food to food-insecure children. She said she sees a growing need for food in her community and she fears the long-term impact on people’s health if the cuts are sustained. Sherry Wolfe, of the Community Center of Northern Westchester, said that 1,700 people in her “tony” area regularly need food assistance. Nancy Claiborn, of Shiloh Baptist Church, New Rochelle, and Linda Hayward, of Yonkers Community Action Program (CAP), shared similar hunger facts and concerns.
“These cuts could have a disastrous impact on the ability of food banks and food pantries to provide wholesome, nutritious food to people who are most vulnerable, like senior citizens, pregnant women, infants and children,” said Rohatynskyj. “These programs are just a tiny part of the federal budget, but they are critical to thousands of New Yorkers. It is not right to balance the budget on the backs of vulnerable children and seniors.”
Lowey concluded the event by asking that people contact their Congressional representatives and even President Obama to protest these cuts.
The Food Bank for Westchester is located at 358 Saw Mill River Road, Millwood, NY 10546. For more information, visit www.foodbankforwestchester.org or call 914-923-1100.
About the Food Bank for Westchester:
Jeanne Wilcox (914) 923-1100 Communications Manager Food Bank for Westchester Jeanne.wilcox@