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March 31, 2006

Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
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Legislative Budget Adds Funds to Fight Hunger and Prevent Diabetes

(Albany, NY) - Assemblyman Josť Rivera (Bronx), the new Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy, successfully worked with his colleagues to include funding for Task Force initiatives in the Legislature's 2006-07 budget plan. The plan contains an increase of $350,000 for emergency food programs, and $1 million for diabetes prevention and control, over what was proposed by the Governor in his budget submitted earlier this year.

The Assembly Majority continues its commitment to increasing funding for community food programs including foodbanks, pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies that help feed hungry children, families and seniors. The Assembly also rejected the Governor's proposed benefit cuts in Family Assistance that would further increase demand for emergency food. The economic reality for low-wage New Yorkers is still bleak. More and more of the clients using food pantries and soup kitchens hold at least one job and still need donated food after they pay their other bills.

Assemblyman Rivera stated, "I hope the Governor will agree with our plan to provide a modest increase in funding to support the volunteers who provide food at churches, synagogues, mosques, shelters and other neighborhood providers. Unfortunately, our society does not provide living wages and affordable housing and hundreds of thousands of families and seniors are forced to wait in line to get food handouts to eat. I urge the Governor to also support our plan for economic development initiatives to create more jobs, more day care slots so parents can work, and our increased funding for health care so that workers won't lose their jobs because they are sick and can't find treatment."

In addition, the Assembly plan provides significant additional funding for the Health Department's Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. Diabetes is a severe and growing health crisis in New York State, particularly in New York City.

  • An estimated 1.5 million people have diabetes in New York, including 800,000 adult NYC residents - more than one in every eight. An estimated 4,000,000 New Yorkers have pre-diabetes and may go on to develop diabetes (yet few of them know it).

  • The problem of Type 2 diabetes is increasing among children and the future consequences are frightening. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has projected that a child with Type 2 diabetes at age 10 will see his or her life shortened by 19 years.

"Two months ago the New York Times ran a front page series about the diabetes crisis facing New York City. The stories and the facts they presented painted a picture of communities and families that are being ravaged by this disease. The problem is not isolated to New York City; it is severe throughout the State. We need increased diabetes funding to teach disease self-management skills, improve community-based prevention programs, train more health practitioners, and enhance diabetes care and prevention efforts. It could also help prevent the terrible and costly complications of diabetes such as blindness and kidney disease which not only cause terrible human suffering but increase costs for all New Yorkers through higher Medicaid and health insurance payments," said Rivera.

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