ALBANY, NY – New York State lawmakers held a virtual hearing today on COVID-19’s effects on food insecurity.
NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on the issue and what actions state officials have taken to help those in need.
((Michael Hein, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner)) When individuals and households experience food insecurity, they are at greater risk of hunger, malnourishment, poor physical and mental health, and poor academic and work achievement.
The Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance says in a span of 4 months the number of people receiving SNAP benefits increased by more than 9 percent.
((Michael Hein, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner)) In February before the onset of the pandemic over 2.5 million people received 355 million dollars in SNAP benefits. By June, the last month for which there is complete and official data almost 2.8 million people received more than 588 million dollars in SNAP benefits.
Additionally, he says emergency food providers have also seen a sharp increase in demand.
((Anne Byrne, Ph.D. Candidate, Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management, Cornell University)) The COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous pressure on food banks across the country forcing them to increase the amount of food distributed, while heightening safety precautions and often changing the entire mechanisms by which they distribute food.
Researchers at Cornell University say the greatest demand is not necessarily where the most cases are.
((Anne Byrne, Ph.D. Candidate, Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management, Cornell University)) It is the economic fallout associated with lockdowns, closures and safety precautions that have led to increased foodbank demand.
One solution to help alleviate food insecurity was the state’s Nourish New York program which has diverted food from farms that would otherwise have gone to waste to those in need.
((Donna Lupardo, NYS Assemblymember)) Millions of pounds were distributed at hundreds, hundreds of sites across the state to over 600,000 families.
The state spent 25 million dollars on the Nourish New York initiative.