Whenever it starts getting cold and damp — like it has been this week with the first visit of sleet and snow in upstate New York —there is even more concern for the homeless and the hungry. Unfortunately, this includes many of today’s students, according to several teachers union presidents I have interviewed recently. They say the number of homeless students is on the rise. There are others who have homes, but not much to eat. Many hungry students receive backpacks of food to take home on weekends, often thanks to the generosity of teachers, SRPs and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York (to which donations are welcome.)
The homeless, the impoverished and the many working poor are among those who need help to keep from going hungry. Many rely on food stamps; in fact, many more than ever do. According to the New York Times, in pre-recession 2007, there were 26 million people on food stamps. This past July, there were 48 million.
Yesterday, the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition — with offices at NYSUT headquarters — hosted a press conference — joined by the Hunger Action Network and other organizations concerned about the poor — to protest cuts to the food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) program. They advocated for a living wage. The gathering met at an Albany church that houses the city’s largest food pantry, Focus Food, to deliver their concerns to the state Capit0l. Here’s a post from Jessica Dowsett of the Labor-Religion Coalition on today’s event:
“Today, advocates, labor and faith leaders joined together at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Albany to deliver a Thanksgiving message to the Capitol: No New Yorker should go hungry. Advocates brought a basket full of groceries to represent the actual cost to families of recent SNAP cuts, and following the press conference walked to the Capitol to deliver letters and records to legislators, urging them to take action against poverty and hunger in New York state. ”
It’s never a good time to cut these programs, and it’s even worse to do it during a Northeast winter, when the weather is more harsh, and it is more of a challenge to find food and shelter and employment.