Our neighbors are hungry: The cuts to SNAP

Posted on 11/01/2013 at 1:43 pm
food pantry line

The line at the Bailey House Food Pantry.

I’ve been writing about the cuts to SNAP (food stamp program) due to the end of the “stimulus” funds that added some extra money to the program. We often hear hunger described as “food insecurity”. This term makes it sound like a psychological condition rather than the terrible reality that many people in our City are hungry because they are too poor to buy enough food.  It reminds me of how the US military refers to soldiers killed in war as “troops”. It desensitizes us to death. The term “food insecurity” similarly desensitizes us to the reality that our poor and low-income neighbors are hungry.

Between January 2013 and October 2013 our Food Pantry distributed 6,894 grocery bags containing 20, 683 meals. Need increased by 10% in that period. 340 children and 1,324 elderly were among those served. The monthly cost of the grocery bags is over $8,000.

What does a food pantry have to do with HIV/AIDS? Proper nutrition is a critical element of HIV/AIDS care. Many medications have to be taken with food.  Sufficient food is also critical to the success of “Test and Treat” and the other new prevention and care interventions. Our National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for improved health outcomes. How will this be achieved if people living with HIV/AIDS and those at high risk cannot get housing and food, the basics of life?

One day a week the Bailey House Food Pantry distribution is limited to our clients. It’s open two other days to the community. If you want to see the face of hunger in NYC, come by our office any Friday at 1PM. We promise you’ll go away with a better appreciation of the tragedy of hunger.

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