Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stamping Out Child Hunger

By Haley Burton

January 24, 2012 Updated Jan 24, 2012 at 6:49 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) Governor Andrew Cuomo says one in six children in New York live in homes without enough food.

What resources are available in Broome County to help families keep food on the table?

"We still have in this State children that go hungry. My friends that is simply unacceptable," said Governor Andrew Cuomo (D).

Cuomo says this is in part due to some New York families not taking advantage of the federal food stamp program, He says 30 percent of New Yorkers eligible for food stamps don't enroll. Cuomo says that 1.4 million people in New York State.

"In Broome County, we have just under 30,000 men, women and children who are receiving food stamps. Of that group, about 13,400 are children," said Art Johnson, Commissioner of Social Services for Broome County.

Johnson says every year, more people in Broome County apply for food stamps. He says in 2011, approximately $4.7 million dollars were issued in food stamps for those 30,000 food stamp recipients in the area.

"The state for the last five years has pretty aggressively tried to increase the number of people who are taking advantage of the food stamp program. There's a federal benefit so there's no cost to the county or the state," he explained.

New York State has created a web-based application tool for food stamps. You can fill out the application online and it will automatically be sent to your County's Department of Social Services for approval review. Click here for more information

"We certainly don't want anyone to go hungry that doesn't have to. Nobody should in this day and age. Between food stamps and free and reduced lunches at schools, there are a lot of opportunities for families to take advantage of," said Johnson, "Food stamps are one thing that can basically help people keep off of public assistance. Maybe all they need is some help with food."

Click here for Broome County Department of Social Services
You can also call the County Department of Social Services at (607) 778-3772 and submit an over the phone application for food stamps.

Governor Cuomo said in his State of the State address that he wants to start a program where the State promotes food stamp outreach to increase enrollment in the program. He also said he wants to end the stigma of applying for food stamps. Cuomo says this will help make sure no child goes to bed hungry in New York State.

The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) says about 40 percent of the people who use food from its pantries are children.

"We're fortunate here in Broome County, we have enough soup kitchens and pantries that people don't have to be hungry," said Ed Blaine, Director of CHOW.

Blaine says the pantries serve about 3,500 people each month. CHOW says the number of families looking for help to put food on the table continues to jump.

"We've actually seen an increase in families using soup kitchens which is an interesting growth for us because demographically for us, it's normally adults and senior citizens, homeless people. Now we're seeing more families come in because they simply can't make ends meet and the only hot meal they're getting from a pantry. To save that food, they're going to a soup kitchen a few times a week," said Blaine.

CHOW offers families a balanced diet, focusing on three meals a day with fruit, veggies and protein.

"If kids don't have a healthy diet, they will be sick more often. When they are in school, they won't be able to concentrate and do well," said Blaine.

For more information on the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), you can click here for more information. You can also call (607) 724-9130

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