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We're Still Struggling... Annual Campaign Letter to You
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We’re still here...We’re still struggling…We’re still hungry..Don’t forget about us.
Even before Superstorm Sandy hit New York, that’s the message we heard time and time again from low-income New Yorkers in all five boroughs.
Despite the fact that poverty and hunger were soaring, those problems had slipped out of the mainstream news and were again being ignored by most elected officials.
Instead, the media trumpeted the proclamation by economists that the recession officially ended in June 2009. Between 2010 and 2011, the Dow Jones average rose by over 1,000 points.
Yet hungry New Yorkers faced a different fate. Unemployment and under-employment remained sky-high, even as prices for rent and food still skyrocketed.
Federal statistics calculated by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger found:
- More than 1.4 million New Yorkers struggled against hunger.
- One in four of the city’s children lived in food insecure homes.
- One in ten seniors lacked sufficient food.
Hungry children can’t learn and grow. Hungry adults can’t work. Hungry senior citizens can’t stay independent.
Our annual hunger survey also found that, even before the storm, more than 60% of the food pantries and soup kitchens citywide lacked the resources to meet the growing demand. That’s right, in the richest city in the history of the world—at the time the stock market was soaring—one in four of our children faced the threat of hunger and nearly two-thirds of feeding agencies couldn’t meet the growing need.
And then Sandy hit.
Pantries and kitchens in the flood zones were entirely destroyed. Numerous feeding agencies lost all their perishable food ruined by power outages. Countless low-income New Yorkers lost jobs, in both the short- and long-run. Low-income children failed to receive more than 4.5 million meals they would have otherwise received had their school been open. Pantries and kitchens citywide faced surges of new clients.
In response, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger sprang into action.
(See our coverage in the Daily News: 1.4 million New Yorkers are food-deprived and Reuters: For hungry New Yorkers, Sandy added to a tough year.
Despite not having power at our main office in the Wall Street area for 12 days, and despite many of our staff members losing power themselves, our dedicated team worked hard to provide emergency relief in the wake of the hurricane.
We immediately visited storm-impacted areas, often by foot, to inspect the food needs ourselves. We worked closely with federal, state, local, and other nonprofit officials to help coordinate emergency food delivery. We successfully pushed to make it easier for kids of all incomes to receive free meals when they returned to school.
We worked to ensure that our clients continued to receive SNAP/ food stamps without interruptions. We kept our appointments with clients at our five sites across the city. We channeled thousands of volunteers to sites across the city where help was urgently needed.
Government agencies and private donors all provided a generous, rapid response to the immediate aftermath of the storm.
But what will happen next month? Next year?
Will the City go back to ignoring hungry New Yorkers, even those made hungrier by the storm?
While pantries and kitchens generally told us that the influx of aid immediately following the storm was enough to meet that immediate need, most of them worried that they would not be able to meet the long-term need.
That’s why we need your help to make sure our leaders don’t forget again about the 1.4 million New Yorkers who will continue to struggle. We need your support to ensure that the response to human-made disasters (such as recessions and social service cut-backs) is as significant as the response to natural disasters.
Our work, addressing the root causes of hunger, is now more important than ever.
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With your generous support, the Coalition continues to be one of the most courageous, innovative, and effective advocacy groups in the city. We have pioneered best practices for engaging hungry citizens to advocate on their own behalf. We have utilized both the traditional news media and social media to reinforce our policy messages. And we combine on-the-ground organizing with professional policy analysis to repeatedly gain concrete policy advances. This year, we accomplished one of our biggest victories ever, working closely with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make it easier for working families and seniors to access federal food benefits.
We’re also working in all five boroughs of the city to provide innovative and cost-effective direct services to aid pantries and kitchens and enable low-income families to afford and access healthier food. We’re also helping thousands of families access government nutrition assistance benefits, enabling them to stave off hunger and obtain healthier foods. Our ground-breaking Farm Fresh Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project helps over 1,000 people in seven low-income neighborhoods afford fresh produce directly from small, regional farmers. This effort has helped inspire elected officials to propose widespread expansion of similar efforts.
And because hunger is a nationwide problem, we have started implementing nationwide solutions.
We’ve implemented an AmeriCorps VISTA national service program in 17 states from coast-to-coast. Fifty five participants work full-time for a year helping eligible families access federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits. Another 50 VISTA participants serve for a summer at sites from Maine to California to increase the access of low-income children to summer meals.
And our most innovative program, the Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service Initiative, will work across all program areas, throughout the country, to recruit 10,000 volunteers for strategic, high impact projects to reduce hunger in the country. (To learn more visit hungervolunteer.org.)
But we can only do this with your help. In these tough times, your support is more critical than ever. If you have any questions or feedback about our programs, please feel free to contact me directly at 212-825-0028, x 204 or via email at email@example.com.
We hope that hungry New Yorkers can once again count on your generous support.
With your help, we won’t let them be forgotten.
P.S. We are extraordinarily effective and transparent with our funding. A full 91% of our budget supports our programs. We have received a perfect, four-star rating from Charity Navigator. You can see our IRS form 990 and audited financial statements here.
- Online donation page for the 2012 Annual Campaign
NY Daily News: 1.4 million New Yorkers are food-deprived
Reuters: For hungry New Yorkers, Sandy added to a tough year
The Coalition's Financials