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We are implementing innovative, effective ways to solve U.S. hunger. Today, 47 million people, including more than 1.3 million New York City residents, can’t afford enough food. Every American should have enough to eat and be healthy, and we are helping lead the national advocacy, capacity building, and direct service efforts to make that goal a reality.
Advocacy, Research, and Policy: Our advocacy team is a voice for millions who struggle against U.S. hunger. One of the most effective and courageous advocacy groups in the nation, we work directly with elected officials on the city, state, and federal level to advance policies to end hunger and promote economic justice. We also conduct ground-breaking research and publish cutting-edge reports that propose bold – yet concrete and realistic – solutions to hunger and poverty.
Benefits Access: Our team works to connect low-income New Yorkers with benefits to access food across all five boroughs. Our staff screens individuals for federal nutrition assistance programs, and helps them through the application and recertification process. In 2013, our team helped over 2,000 families access SNAP. Our VISTA program also increases benefits access nationwide.
AmeriCorps VISTA: Our AmeriCorps VISTA teams, operating across 32 states with over 180 volunteers, enable participants to serve the country while fighting hunger. All of our projects are united by the basic goals of reducing hunger, improving nutrition and empowering families to obtain more economic opportunities.
Strategic Volunteer Program: Our Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service Initiative connects people and groups with volunteer opportunities that can make the greatest impact in the fight against hunger. Our newly launched web site, hungervolunteer.org, offers hunger organizations and the public innovative strategies and tools for engaging volunteers in effective activities to build the capacity of nonprofit groups, increase participation in government nutrition assistance programs, and advocate for improved economic and governmental policies. In 2013, 874 volunteers serve 3,387 hours in direct food service, outreach, administrative, and other strategic activities in NYC.
Child Nutrition Program: Our child nutrition program works to ensure that every child in New York City and America has access to sufficient, nutritious food. By increasing participation in free summer meals and school breakfasts, we connect kids with the food they need to grow and thrive.
Farm Fresh Program Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Initiative: Our pioneering community supported agriculture program provides subsidized shares of fresh, regional produce, in season, to low-income families. In 2013, our CSA program distributed over 91,000 pounds of produce across the city.
Over the last five years, NYCCAH has led efforts to highlight New York City’s under-participation in the School Breakfast Program and called for universal, in-classrooms breakfast to fix the problem. In 2015, NYCCAH convinced Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to allocate nearly $18 million in City funding to ensure universal free breakfasts in classrooms in 530 elementary schools, serving 339,000 students, by fall of 2017, thereby leveraging tens of millions of dollars of extra federal breakfast reimbursements.
In January 2002, a total of 798,396 New York City residents received food stamp (now called SNAP) benefits, receiving a collective total of $82.64 million in benefits, equaling $991.78 million in benefit dollars for the year. At that time, NYCCAH determined that more than a million low-income New Yorkers were eligible, but not then receiving, food stamps, and launched a comprehensive advocacy, media, and outreach effort to increase participation. By January of 2013, participation had increased to 1,642,854 people (an 844,458 person jump) and monthly benefits increased to $288.94 million (a 273% increase), equaling $3.47 billion in benefits per year going to low-income families to help them prevent hunger. Thus, the increase alone amounted to about $2.47 billion extra in food dollars each year. There were many factors responsible for this hike, with the largest factor being the deep and long recession. But if we make a conservative estimate that NYCCAH’s SNAP media, outreach, and advocacy efforts were responsible for at least 10% of the caseload increase, that means at least 84,000 people received extra food benefits, worth $247 million per year, due to NYCCAH’s work. While the annual amount of NYCCAH internal spending on SNAP advocacy, media, and outreach grew greatly over that 11-year period, on average NYCCAH spent roughly $300,000 per year on those functions over that time period. That means that $300,000 in NYCCAH spending aided 84,000 people and generated $247 million in benefits, meaning every three and a half dollars spent by NYCCAH helped one person get SNAP for a year and every one dollar spent by NYCCAH generated $823 worth of benefits.
In 2014, NYCCAH played a key role in New York City’s decision to accept the federal waiver that allows people who are unemployed to continue to get SNAP benefits as they look for work.
In 2014 and 2015, the Coalition played a high level role in the national media to help successfully block conservatives in Congress from rolling-back improved school nutrition standards.
In 2014 and 2015, NYCCAH played a significant role in convincing Governor Cuomo to take executive action to shield New York State SNAP recipients from federal cuts, ensuring that 300,000 low-income households kept $450 million worth of food benefits each of the two years.
NYCCAH played a key role over the last decade in increasing the use of SNAP benefits at New York City farmers’ markets, ensuring that most of the high-volume markets in the city now accept SNAP benefits.
In 2008, NYCCAH co-wrote a paper, which included our idea for the federal government to create a new grant program to reward states for innovative programs to reduce child hunger: http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/news.aspx?id=461f4e17-6307-474e-8c8f-f35c79954578. In 2010, Congress and the President agreed, as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), to create such a grant program. In 2015, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, announced the first grants under the program, awarding $27 million to Kentucky, Nevada, Virginia, the Chickasaw Nation, and the Navajo Nation.
NYCCAH spearheaded a successful effort to eliminate finger printing of SNAP applicants as of 2012,ending thecostly, punitive, and ineffective process.
The Coalition pioneered Food Action Boards, one of the few projects in the nation that places hungry Americans in the forefront of the fight against hunger.
Using NYCCAH’s existing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) sites as a model, the Coalition helped convince Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to push to increase aid to CSAs in the federal Farm Bill in 2013.
Wrote a paper for the Center for American Progress calling on Governors to create State Food Action Plans: https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2011/02/pdf/hunger_report.pdf. Governor Cuomo used this proposal as a model for his own State Hunger Task Force, and appointed NYCCAH’s executive director to the task force.
Over the last decade, NYCCAH has worked closely with labor unions and other advocacy groups to successfully push for state minimum wage increases, city living wage laws, and a state wage board to lift wages for fast food workers.