Numerous Organizations Say It's Time For The Federal Government To Change Course And Get More Involved

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With Thanksgiving just days away, organizations are raising awareness that more than 1 million people in our region don’t have enough to eat.

Threats to the food stamp program and increasing rent is partly to blame, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Tuesday.

CBS2 met Shervah Marcus at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

“The rent is actually pretty ridiculous in New York,” Marcus said.

Marcus is homeless.

His freelance wages are not enough for the rising cost of rent. He also relies on soup kitchens to get a free meal.

“In New York City alone, over 1 million people can’t afford enough food. That’s 1 in 8 New Yorkers in the richest city in the history of the world,” Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg said, referencing a study by his organization.

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foodpantry2 Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens Feel Overwhelmed By Demand

Local food pantries say they are a bit concerned about the demand, while other organizations want the government to reverse course and get more involved. (Photo: CBS2)

The study also found that raising the minimum wage helped decrease the number of working adults who do not have enough to eat.

“Over the last five years, the administration has doubled the investment in food for soup kitchens and greatly expanded access to federal food stamp benefits,” said Steven Banks, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Social Services.

That said, it’s still hard to see progress.

The line for a free Thanksgiving meal stretches around the block at Reaching Out Community Services and food pantry. And at Holy Apostle, the church continues to provide 1,000 meals a day, five days a week.

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To address this issue, advocates say Congress must act.

“To increase funding for the SNAP Program, the new name for the food stamps program; needs to make school meals universal and needs a national job program and a national increase in the minimum wage,” Berg said.

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Instead, the federal government has made cuts to the food stamp program. It leaves children and the elderly most vulnerable, and more people are showing up to pantries and soup kitchens. Many are going for the very first time.

Hunger Free America estimates that it would cost the city nearly $570 million a year to feed everyone who doesn’t have enough to eat.