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Hunger Free America says the number of 'food insecure' people in New York state is soaring

Joel Berg Hunger Free America
Hunger Free America
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Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America at a news conference on Wed., 11/23/22, talking about the increase in food insecurity in New York state and around the nation.

Advocates and various officials gathered Wednesday at the Community Food Cupboard in Rochester to talk about what they say is a soaring need to help people who are hungry.

According to a report by the nonprofit organization Hunger Free America, the number of people without enough food between October of 2021 and October 2022, spiked by 35% in New York state. According to USDA food insecurity data, Hunger Free America said that across the state, nearly 11% of residents, or 2.1 million people, lived in food-insecure households from 2019-2021.

Joel Berg is CEO of Hunger Free America, and he told WXXI News that it’s a perfect storm of changes that include the cutting of some government programs.

“The elimination of the child tax credit extension that gave working families extra cash to be able to buy food, the rolling back of extended unemployment benefits, the ending of universal school meals, particularly important in suburban and rural areas around Rochester,” Berg said.

Berg added that another issue has been inflation, which is not only raising food prices, but the cost of things like housing and childcare.

And he said inflation has impacted food banks and related organizations such as Foodlink in Rochester.

“They get some food donated, they get some food from the government, but they also buy a lot of food even though they buy it wholesale. When prices go up, their prices go up. And so, it really is the perfect storm that low-income people have a harder time affording food directly, their purchasing power under government programs is less and the charities have a hard time affording the food they need to feed everyone,” said berg.

Officials with Hunger Free America and Foodlink are advocating for ways to reduce food insecurity, including asking Congress to take action on the necessary programs to help low-income people.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.