Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

New Hunger Data Proves Severity of Situation Says Serrano

Nov 26, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC – November 26, 2013 – In the wake of new report on hunger in New York City released by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, Congressman José E. Serrano again called for reversing recent food stamp cuts and refraining from further cuts in the program. The data show a surge in hunger and food insecurity over the past several years.

“For years now, we have been saying that there is a hunger crisis unfolding in our City and today we have hard data to prove that we were right,” said Congressman Serrano. “Hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition are increasing and, despite their hard work, local food pantries cannot fill the gap created by cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”

“I have repeatedly voted against cuts to SNAP, and spoken out about the real and sustained harm they are doing. Today, however, the time has come to change the tune. We cannot simply fight the SNAP cuts but rather must treat this as an emergency for all levels of government.

“Today, I join with local and state officials and advocates in calling for immediate action on this problem. I will continue to do everything I can at the federal level, and believe that they will do whatever they can at the local and state level. It will take a coordinated push from all levels of government to address this increase in hunger.

“Unfortunately, because of the implacable resistance we see to SNAP funding from the Republicans in Washington, we need emergency action from state and local governments. It is shameful and wrong that Republicans in Washington would cause such a need—especially on an issue like hungry children and families—but it is the reality we are faced with.”

Last month, Serrano led a letter addressed to Farm Bill conferees and signed by nine Members from New York City opposing the House’s proposal to cut SNAP by $40 billion and the Senate’s proposal to limit coordination between SNAP and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 

Acknowledging that Latinos are disproportionately affected by cuts to nutrition assistance, in June, Serrano led a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, signed by 12 Latino Members of Congress, opposing an earlier iteration of the House Farm Bill, which cut SNAP by $20 billion.

Serrano is also the sponsor of H.R. 208, the Anti-Hunger Empowerment Act of 2013, which would create the Beyond the Soup Kitchen pilot program to award grants to community-based nonprofit anti-hunger organizations, as well as eliminate SNAP fingerprinting requirements, which have been proven to deter families from applying for SNAP benefits. 

In New York City, more than 1.9 million residents rely on SNAP benefits and yet a Senate proposal currently under consideration would disproportionately affect New York City SNAP recipients. S.954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, includes cuts which target SNAP recipients in federally subsidized housing – including the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) – who receive assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), known as “heat and eat.” Additionally, House Republicans proposals for SNAP contain a total of $40 billion in cuts over 10 years, which would lead to approximately 2.8 million people losing SNAP benefits.

“The time has come for emergency action,” Serrano reiterated. “There is a hunger crisis in our communities and it will take action across the board to address it. Again I call on House Republicans to drop their demands for harsh cuts to SNAP benefits and instead to work with us to ensure the program is able to meet the demand we see in our nation. No one should go hungry in a nation with such abundance.”