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40% of New York City’s Veterans Rely on Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens, Reveals New Food Bank For New York City Report

CONTACT: Emma Woods,, 646-200-5303
Carol Schneider,, 212-566-7855, ext. 2231
November 8, 2013

2 in 5 Vets graphic


40% of New York City’s Veterans Rely on Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens, Reveals New Food Bank For New York City Report

In 2012, 95,000 NYC Veterans Accessed Emergency Food to Get By
SNAP Cuts Mean Even Greater Hunger Crisis for Veterans Whose Food Stamp Benefits Were Slashed November 1

New York, NY – November 8, 2013 – Hunger’s New Normal: Redefining Emergency in Post-Recession New York City, a new research report from Food Bank For New York City, finds that forty percent of New York City’s veterans – 95,000 veterans in total – accessed a food pantry or soup kitchen in 2012. As Veterans Day approaches, Food Bank’s numbers demonstrate that our service men and women are facing a devastating new battle: hunger. Even before last week’s $5 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program), New York City’s veterans have been facing a hunger crisis that is only getting worse.

“It is appalling that in New York City, nearly half of the men and women who have served our country have left the front lines to return to emergency food lines. More tragic still, we are sending our veterans deeper into a hunger crisis by cutting SNAP benefits, which act as our first line of defense against hunger,” said Margarette Purvis, President & CEO of Food Bank For New York City. “This Veterans Day, the most patriotic thing we can do is to urge Congress to reverse these devastating SNAP cuts, and take all additional cuts off the table.”

The report also found that SNAP benefit levels were already inadequate for meeting basic food needs before the November 1 cuts – in fact, more than 40% of SNAP recipients in the five boroughs are turning to food pantries and soup kitchens to keep food on the table. Despite a 2009 SNAP benefit increase, 75% of people accessing food pantries and soup kitchens who are on SNAP report that their benefits last only three weeks into the month. With current benefit levels already failing to last the month, the recent cuts have created a hunger crisis for many families just as the holiday season approaches.

Beginning November 1, all SNAP recipients had their benefits slashed – an average loss of $29 per month for a household of three. The cut will result in an estimated loss of 76 million meals for New York City residents over the next 12 months, more food than Food Bank For New York City, the country’s largest food bank, distributes in a year. Nationally, an estimated 900,000 veterans will be affected.

“The SNAP program is a critical resource for tens of thousands of our New York City veterans who are struggling to access nutritious food,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Too many of our brave men and women who have fought honorably for our country are depending on this program to get their next meal. I will continue to urge my colleagues in Congress to reject these harmful cuts for the most vulnerable and not balance the budget on the backs of hungry children, seniors and veterans.”

You can make your voice heard by sending an email to your representatives in Washington letting them know that you support SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). Go to

Hunger’s New Normal is based on data collected between November 2011 and July 2012 from more than 1,200 emergency food program participants at 141 food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the five boroughs. Data was collected on a variety of topics, including patterns of participation, satisfaction with food service, demographics, household composition, income and employment, participation in income support programs, participation in food assistance programs (like SNAP), housing, and health. The report can be read in its entirety here:

About the Cuts

On November 1, 2013, 76 million meals lost: This November, sweeping cuts to SNAP benefits took effect, resulting in the estimated loss of 76 million meals for New York City residents. A household of three lost, on average, $29 per month in SNAP benefits – or nearly $19 million per month in New York City alone. These cuts are the result of a deal struck in December 2010 in order to pay for a $0.06 per meal increase in federal school lunch reimbursements as part of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.” While the White House promised to work with Congress to restore the funds before the cuts could take effect, the promise has yet to be fulfilled.

Over the next 12 months, New York City alone will lose approximately $225 million in food purchases, which is money that supports jobs in our retail food sector and throughout the economy. The loss of 76 million meals over a year is more food than Food Bank For New York City – the largest food bank in the country with a robust and experienced network of 1,000 charities – distributes annually.

About Food Bank For New York City

Food Bank For New York City recognizes 30 years as the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts — food distribution, income support and nutrition education — all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of community-based member programs citywide, Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. Food Bank’s hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. Learn how you can help at

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