WPCNR HUNGER WATCH. By John F. Bailey. July 27, 2017:
The Food Bank for Westchester and Stop and Shop presented a forum highlighting that 20% of Westchester County residents were undernourished and were hungry each day. County Executive Robert P. Astorino noted that 40,000 county residents receive food stamps. Leslie Gordon, CEO of the Food Bank, said 200,000 Westchester residents experienced hunger. A map was displayed showing pockets of county areas where hunger was an issue.
Department of Social Services Commissioner for Westchester County Kevin McGuire told the audience of about 50 persons, most residents eligible for help did not ask for it because they were not aware of the DSS services available. He said there was no county “hunger hotline.”
He told WPCNR that by calling his office, 914-995-3285, persons could be directed to appropriate programs and services to aid them in dealing with their inability to feed themselves and families including the SNAP program.
The purpose of the forum was to publicize the scope of the hunger problem in Westchester County and reach out to motivate and involve businesses, community organizations, and local governments to a greater extent in solving the hunger crisis by these organizations increasing donations and services to Westchester hungry.
Mayor Thomas Roach of White Plains, member of the panel, suggested that food donations from the public could be collected at community events. He said he plans to start such a donation program at Jazzfest in White Plains in September, and at next year’s fireworks celebration. He also said new residents in White Plains would be acquainted with the hunger program in the future when they move to new residences, especially the 5,000 apartments being built in the city.
Assemblyman David Buchwald, representing White Plains, told WPCNR that the state has not taken up the matter of increased state funding for the SNAP (Food Stamp program) because President Trump’s new budget has not been taken up by congress yet. It is due October 1.
Buchwald said that the extent of the human services cuts has not been approved or cut yet, and the state cannot determine how large a blow federal cuts to food stamps will deal the state. He also suggested programs for donating unused food from restaurants and farms could be expanded to provide more food for the hungry on a regular basis. So supplementing any cuts he said has not been taken up by the legislature as yet.
Dr. Mona Kennedy of New York Presbyterian Hospital, White Plains, said that physicians needed to be more aware of the nutrition issues in examining patients and to find out what their eating patterns are by administering a questionnaire that she has found helpful in treating patients and revealing malnutrition or hunger as a cause of related symptoms.
Ms. Gordon said the focus on developing new community initiaves and discussing them with community and business and muncipalities would be a major effort in September which she dubbed Take Action Against Hunger Month. Volunteer by going to FB4.org/HungerActionMonth.
John Ravitz, Executive Vice President/CEO of Business Council of Weschester said his organization would be attempting to involve members in new programs to supply more food for the Food Bank of Westchester in the weeks ahead.
You may also participate in the Miles for Meals 5K Run September 9 at 8:30 AM at Pace University in Honor of National Hunger Month (September).