Tag: Hunger

HWCLI’s #Forthe24 Twitter Chat

On October 13, Newsday published an article titled, “LI’s Shrinking Middle Class”, here is an overview:

According to a recent study, 17.8% or 165,758 Long Island households are making more than $184,657 annually.  This is a 60% increase since 1990.
While this seems like wonderful news, the study also states an increase in the number of Long Island households earning less than $46,165 a year from 179,879 (21% of all households)  in 1990 to 227,914 (24.4% of all households) in 2014. 
What this article re-enforces, is the message we, as a collective having been saying for years. Long Islanders are struggling! It takes almost 2x that amount to survive.
The survival budget standard for a family of 4 is approx.$85,000
Almost 25% of all Long Island households are experiencing significant daily challenges in meeting the basic human needs of our families- housing, food, clothing, transportation, and health care.
Since  the release of this article brought greater visibility to the issue, we were prompted to create a plan of action. A plan of action that continues to bring visibility to the needs of Long Islanders. A plan of action that must include all of Long Island’s elected officials.
Join us in HWCLI’s Twitter Chat on November 4th at 1 PM as we ask ourselves and our elected officials what we can do to support the 24%. 
Simply use the #Forthe24 to join the conversation.


How to join:

  • Log on to Twitter
  • Make sure you are following @HWCLI
  • Use the #Forthe24 along with your tweet

Making a difference starts with a conversation!

Teen Food Insecurity

An estimated 6.8 million young people ages 10 to 17 struggle to have enough to eat, including 2.9 million who have very low food security. Urban Institute and Feeding America spent 3 years conducting focus groups with teenagers in 10 communities in an effort to get a more complete picture about how food insecurity impacts teenagers. They found that food insecure teenagers face impossible choices- often engaging in risky behavior just to survive.

During the focus groups, teens were asked questions about their observations of teen food insecurity in their communities, how young people get food, and risky behaviors, such as stealing or dealing drugs that teens may resort to during times of desperation. Several common themes emerged from the focus groups discussions:

  • Teen food insecurity is widespread. Even teens that were not experiencing food insecurity themselves were aware of other teens that were.
  • Teens fear the stigma associated with food insecurity and needing assistance. They may be less likely to access resources.
  • Teens with younger siblings often take on the role of parent for younger siblings, ensuring they have enough to eat first and putting themselves second. Teens are often more aware of parent’s struggles with money and food insecurity than younger children.
  • Teens faced with acute food insecurity reported sometimes engaging in criminal behavior such as stealing food, dealing drugs or reselling stolen items to make money.

It’s clear from the data collected in the focus groups that teen food insecurity is a multi-faceted issue that requires adding supports in multiple areas. Many nutrition programs focus on younger children so more emphasis should be placed on engaging teens in these programs, especially school meal programs. More employment options are also needed to provide teens with a way of earning money. Teens in the focus group indicated they would be glad to work but job opportunities are limited in their communities. Teens should be empowered and engaged to create programs for their communities. As a result of a focus group in Portland, a youth empowerment group is designing programming for teens in their own community.  Addressing food insecurity in teens is clearly a challenge, but it’s clear that steps must be taken to provide further supports to this vulnerable population.

For more information, read the full report, Impossible Choices, from Urban Institute and Feeding America

Study: Children with SSI more likely to be food insecure

High medical costs associated with raising children with disabilities or special health care needs (SHCN) can drain a household’s budget and force families to struggle with providing even those most basic necessities. For households with particularly low incomes and almost no assets, federal disability benefits (SSI) can help offset the cost of care for these children with SHCN. However, research from Children’s HealthWatch shows that families with children with SHCN are at the highest risk for food insecurity even if they are receiving SSI. Families of children receiving SSI face hardships in finding jobs with adequate wages that enable them to care for their child and frequently do not have the ability to build assets that could help protect from sudden economic shocks. While many families with children receiving SSI may also receive SNAP benefits, SSI often reduces the SNAP benefit amount because it is countable household income. SNAP benefits are also not adequate to purchase an ordinary diet and may be depleted even faster for households with children with specific dietary needs.

Children’s HealthWatch recommends the following policy changes to support children with SHCN receiving SSI

  1. Sustain SSI benefit levels to ensure children with special health care needs continue to receive support to offset the cost of their medical care and needs.
  2. Modify the asset limit of $3,000 per household so families have the ability to save money that can help absorb sudden financial hardships or allow them to better stabilize themselves financially.
  3. Partially exclude SSI benefits from SNAP benefits calculations so families are able to receive more nutritional assistance.
  4. Simplify the verification process for the medical expense deduction for SNAP so more households are able to take advantage of this deduction. Families with disabled members can deduct medical expenses over $35 per month which can increase benefit amounts.

SSI is a critical resource that helps low income families with children with disabilities or special health care needs but it is often not enough to ensure access to basic necessities. Ensuring that benefits amounts provide enough resources for families is essential to helping these vulnerable families and children. SNAP policies should also be updated to ensure families already at risk for food insecurity are able to meet their nutritional needs and those of their children.

Hungry Long Islanders don’t always qualify for help

Food insecurity exists in every county and congressional district in the country. But not everyone struggling with hunger qualifies for federal nutrition programs.

On Long Island 42% and 35% of food insecure people in Nassau and Suffolk County respectively, are not eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other Nutrition Programs. This means 69,533 Long Islanders struggle to put food on the table for their families. This includes 43,944 children.  Almost half of food insecure children on Long Island are not eligible for help accessing food.

The House Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill (H.R. 5003) that was voted out of committee on May 18th would further put children’s food security at risk.  The bill adds a NEW block grant provision that was added just before markup and remained intact despite efforts by Democrats to strike the provision.  It also weakens community eligibility by raising the percentage of identified student threshold from 40 to 60 percent.  This includes 5 Long Island schools that would lose Community Eligibility and about 72 schools that are currently eligible that would never get the chance to implement CEP if the bill is approved on the House floor.

However, on the State level, there has been an effort to address the gap between food insecure people and the percentage of those who are eligible for food assistance.  As part of the 2016 State-of-the State, Governor Cuomo announced that New York State will raise the income level from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty level for the SNAP program.  Raising the income guidelines is estimated to bring in $688.5 million in additional federal SNAP benefits to New Yorkers each year, with an estimated annual economic impact of $1.27 billion.  The new FPL guidelines will go into effect on July 1, 2016.

Take Action!

Contact Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee letting them know your outrage and opposition to the committee passed bill (H.R.5003)

Find out more about food insecurity in Nassau and Suffolk County using Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap project

Hunger’s Impact on Mental Health

A recent study conducted by Bread for the World Institute estimates that hunger costs the U.S economy $160 billion every year in poor health outcomes and healthcare expenses.   The most expensive hunger related health problem by far are those related to mental health.  About half of all hunger related expenses, $78.7 billion, were due to problems such as depression, anxiety and suicide.


Children and seniors in particular are at risk for mental health issues related to hunger.   Research has shown that those growing up in  food-insecure households are exposed to chronic levels of stress that make them vulnerable to depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, and poor performance in school.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a safety-net program that provides nutrition assistance to low-income families.  It is the most successful food program in the U.S to alleviate hunger and reduce poverty.  A 2015 White House report on the long term benefits of SNAP found that three-quarters of recipient households have a child, and elderly member, or a member with a disability.

Read the full report on hunger related health costs

Read the White House report on the long term benefits of SNAP