Ortiz to Fight for More Budget Help for the Hungry

Funding is flat but need rises dramatically
February 3, 2003
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy, plans to fight for more funding for children, mothers and seniors who need food assistance. Although the Governor maintained most food program funding at last year's level, emergency food program spending was cut by $1.6 million. The poor economy is inundating food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters statewide.

At the same time the Governor is also proposing to reduce aid for local administration of the Food Stamp program even though the State and Federal governments have recognized the importance of this federal program to working families who have left welfare. In two months hundreds of thousand of immigrants will be eligible again for Food Stamps after program changes were approved by Congress last year.

"We cannot expect people with no, or low-paying jobs, and less health care, and less education under this Governor's budget to be able to meet their food needs. We cannot expect the food pantries and soup kitchens that serve these families to help increased numbers with less money. Even more people will show up at emergency food programs if they can't get Food Stamps because the office is closed or overwhelmed by new applicants. I will fight to restore funds to programs that were cut and add funding to help serve the growing population of hungry New Yorkers and the deserving immigrants who should be getting Food Stamps."

The Assembly Majority has added funding to the Governor's budget over the last several years for food assistance. Ortiz has led the fight for anti-hunger initiatives in the Assembly and has repeatedly visited Washington to successfully lobby to restore Food Stamps assistance to immigrants and other families. Ortiz sponsored two public hearings, in NYC and Albany, on rising hunger and homelessness last year.

"We cannot improve our economy or society without healthy, educated and productive Americans. We cannot have productive, successful Americans unless they grow up with proper nutrition. Feeding children in soup kitchens is not the answer. We need better schools, more jobs, good healthcare, affordable housing, and nutrition assistance that allows families to feed themselves. Our President, our Congress, our Governor, our Mayor, our City Council must join us in providing a better life for our children and a better society for everyone."