After learning of Census Bureau data that shows the poverty rate in New York State rose from 14.2 percent in 2008 to 15.8 percent in 2009, bringing the number of New Yorkers now living in poverty to a little over 3 million, the Hunger Action Network (HAN) decided to take action.

“Nationwide, unemployment among the poorest Americans is in excess of 30 percent, comparable to the Great Depression,” according to HAN.

So, the organization’s statewide membership, representing 3,000 emergency food programs, decided to focus its 28th annual meeting in Harlem earlier this week on jobs and economic justice.

The sessions were held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem. Among the speakers were Eric Walker, organizing director of PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing); Rev. Earl Kooperkamp of St. Mary’s Church; and Christy Robb, director of the Hour Children food pantry in Long Island City, who discussed initiatives necessary to address the rising hunger and poverty issues in the state.

As the day progressed, HAN held various workshops on hunger, jobs and poverty where participants could voice their own ideas.

The day culminated in a march to the State Office Building on 125th Street to call for job creation and single-payer health care, both of which supporters claim, could lower the poverty and hunger rates.

To further its cause, HAN has endorsed the October 2 One Nation Working Together rally in Washington, D.C., to promote job creation. Some of the organization’s members are planning on traveling to DC for the rally.