NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Food Bank for New York City says the need for emergency food remains “staggeringly” high in the wake of cuts to the nation’s food stamp program.

It released a report Monday that found 80 percent of the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens reported increased demand over the past year.

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“What’s more distressing is that shortages at food pantries and soup kitchens are more widespread and more pervasive,” Triada Stampas, Vice President of Research and Public Affairs for the Food Bank for New York City, told 1010 WINS.

The report found that nearly 60 percent reported running out of food, or particular types of food, needed to make adequate meals in September.

Cuts to the food stamp program removed an average of $18 a month in benefits from one million households in New York City, according to the Food Bank For New York City.

Those cuts have resulted in an 11-month loss of more than 56 million meals, the organization said.

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Stampas said that it can’t be left up to charitable organizations to feed people.

“The response to hunger can’t come from charity alone, it is a shared response, we need a strong safety net and we need our policy makers to take this information and act on it so that together we can help close what is an incredibly wide meal gap for people in need,” Stampas said.

Stampas said the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program is able to help the hungry more than any other efforts.

“SNAP remains our nation’s first line of defense against hunger even at the reduced benefit amount, two months worth of SNAP benefits in New York City provides more meals than the entire emergency food network does in a year,” Stampas said. “This is why we’re stressing that the charitable response to hunger can’t be the only out.”

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