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Research & Policy Development

NYCCAH is leading the national advocacy movement to end hunger in America.

Our groundbreaking advocacy campaigns and original research provide sound data to support our fight to end hunger and increase equality across the nation.

Our community organizing, and policy and research efforts, provide a national model for peer organizations in the anti-hunger movement. Working with officials at every level of government, we advance policies to end hunger and promote economic justice. 

We conduct original research on hunger and poverty in New York City and America to help the public better understand the causes of, and solutions to, hunger and poverty. Our research informs our policy recommendations, and is a valuable tool for partner organizations and elected officials alike. Our research publications are often cited by leading elected officials, top national news outlets, and used as a point of reference in developing government policies.

Annual Survey & Hunger Report

The most widely cited data on Hunger in New York City, our Annual Hunger Survey Report provides original data on hunger across the five boroughs, and collects information from emergency food providers. Our 2013 report found that hunger and poverty remain high, with kitchens and pantries struggling to meet increased demand.

The report was released Thanksgiving week and promoted at press conferences in all five boroughs with the Mayor-elect, citywide officials, members of Congress, and community leaders. 

Key findings from the report include:    

-Nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers are food insecure

-1 in 5 NYC children live in food insecure homes

-1 in 10 NYC seniors are food insecure

-Statewide 1 in 10 New Yorkers are food insecure

-NYC pantries and kitchens reported a 10 percent increase in demand in 2013

-57 percent of pantries and kitchens citywide suffered from cuts in combined government and private resources.

To view the 2013 report click here.

Center for American Progress

Joel Berg, the Coalition’s Executive Director, is also a Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress (CAP), a leading think tank based in Washington DC. Joel researches and writes papers and participates in events at the Center, which is dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.

Building on the achievements of progressive pioneers such as Teddy Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, CAP’s work addresses 21st-century challenges such as energy, national security, economic growth and opportunity, immigration, education, and health care. The Center develops new policy ideas, critiques policy stemming from conservative values, and challenges the media to cover the issues that truly matter and shape the national debate.

You can see papers that Joel has written for CAP here.


Policy and Advocacy Success Stories:

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: 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:  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.