I feel great dismay at the Thanksgiving news that Governor Cuomo of New York is giving away $4.5 million to food banks. Even the food bank industry itself has said that the ultimate cost-efficient solution to starving New Yorkers is income and increasing the coverage of the Food Stamp program, as well as increasing the benefit amount from the paltry current $1.40 per meal.
The facts are:
a) This enormous grant to organizations that distribute food to food banks will do little to get food to rural New York State residents, who have neither the gas money nor often the vehicle to get to a food bank during the hours they are open.
b) The grant is a missed opportunity to stimulate the upstate grocery business and the larger economy–had the money been disbursed as Food Stamps it would have increased local grocery and other related businesses.
c) This is a missed opportunity for New York State to set an example for the nation by putting the millions into Food Stamps rather than the emergency food system. It was quite clearly within Cuomo’s power and at his discretion to raise the Food Stamp allotment to families, or ask the federal government for a waiver that would have eliminated some of the bureaucracy that makes it difficult for New Yorkers to get Food Stamps.
d) The grant will do nothing to solve the critical problem that 40 percent of New Yorkers poor enough to be eligible for Food Stamps do not get them.