July 12, 2010
Vetoes hit hungry in Broome
The very late state budget and the vetoing of member items have put the burden and cost of the lack of real leadership in Albany on the backs of our schools and nonprofits. The lateness of the state budget in Albany and the vetoes of the member items have affected the Broome County Council of Churches CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse) Program in a couple of ways.
The member item that was vetoed by Gov. Paterson designated for the Broome County Council of Churches, $7,500, was earmarked for the purchase of wholesale food for the CHOW Program's food pantries. With the demand for emergency food increasing by over 20 percent each of the last three years, it has been a challenge to keep our pantries stocked.
The CHOW Program has received this member item grant for the last few years and included the amount in our budget for 2010. We will need to find a way to replace these funds in an increasingly difficult economic environment or cut back on the amount of food we give to the families who come to us. (The $7,500 member item designated to Catholic Charities is also for the purchase of food for their pantry.)
Thus, with the need for emergency food increasing in Broome County, the two largest emergency food programs are being cut by $15,000. This will be difficult to replace, as individual donations are less than last year at this time. The people of our area are not less generous, just less able to be of assistance to the programs that assist their neighbors.
The tardiness of the budget has caused other difficulties with our CHOW Program. CHOW receives funds from a grant from the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program of the state Health Department. This money helps offset the cost of our food recovery program, Broome Bounty. Broome Bounty recovered approximately 1 million pounds of food in 2009 that would have ended up wasted. This money is spent first and reimbursed by the state each month.
Since the budget deadline passes, no money has come from this grant to The Council of Churches. Thus, money that has already been spent has not been reimbursed as promised. This amounts to over $10,000 that The Council of Churches has spent in food recovery that has not been reimbursed as promised. When and if it will be reimbursed, we don't know.
The nonprofits in our area that are being shortchanged in the budget by Paterson's vetoes all operate on a pay-as-you-go basis that has very little, or nothing at all, left over at the end of the year. We cannot sustain the loss of revenue by these vetoes, and we cannot continue spending money that is contractually promised to us without being reimbursed. The local nonprofits, and nonprofits throughout the state, are paying dearly for the lack of true leadership in Albany and a broken system that serves as our state government.
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