Hunger Free America’s returning to feeding the food insecure and it began its journey in the Bronx.
This week Hunger Free NYC reopened its Bronx office at 938 Sheridan Avenue as part of Hunger Free America’s cross-country venture to reopen most of its facilities after COVID-19 related quarantine.
Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg said that he’s happy to do the work, but wishes that his work wasn’t necessary.
“My twentieth anniversary with the organization is bittersweet, since neither my job nor my organization should even still need to exist, since there’s simply no excuse for hunger in the wealthiest nation in world history,” Berg stated. “Even with the pandemic easing, hunger still ravages virtually every rural and suburban town and urban neighborhood in the nation, which is why my journey will spotlight food hardships in every nook and cranny of the country, from coast-to-coast.”
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, the Hunger Free officials noted that in one week in April, 1.1 million New York State residents didn’t have enough to eat.
According to federal government numbers, in February, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) doled out a total of $599 million worth of food to 2.7 million New York State residents.
One city council member noted that issues around food insecurity existed before quarantine, and COVID-19 didn’t help close the gap.
“Food insecurity was an issue prior to COVID-19 that was further exacerbated by the global pandemic,” said New York City Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. “Many New Yorkers are still in desperate need of support and rely on community groups such as Hunger Free America for assistance in accessing SNAP and WIC benefits to support their families during these challenging times.”
Other elected officials joined Gibson and expressed that the organization’s existence is an indictment on society as a whole.
“A champion for food justice efforts here in New York City and nationwide, Joel Berg has been on the front lines of the fight against hunger by increasing awareness, fundraising with local organizations, and highlighting innovative policies to solve food insecurity,” stated New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “There is no reason that anyone in our country should go hungry ––we have more to do.”
Hunger Free NYC’s runs programs around the five boroughs to make sure low-income New Yorkers are aware of government benefits that can help them eat. Their Benefits Access team also conducts free pre-screenings for SNAP eligibility of city resident. The nonprofit also assists pregnant women, caregivers and new mothers to apply and enroll in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
New Yorkers can contact Hunger Free NYC at 646-355-1475 or email to determine their eligibility for SNAP and WIC. Hunger Free workers speak English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
Berg hopes the government makes their organization’s importance unnecessary.
“My goal is to energize the work to enact the public polices needed to end U.S. hunger once and for all and to raise the money needed for Hunger Free America to help lead the movement to do so,” stated Berg.