By Ken Lovett
The federal food stamp program alone pumps more than $5.3 billion a year into the state, the letter says.
"While the Farm Bill is not up for reauthorization until 2012, we are concerned this critical program may be fast forwarded within the Super Committee deficit process," the lawmakers wrote.
"The Farm Bill needs major reform to better help end hunger through strengthening the SNAP Food Stamps, promoting a health diet, and supporting family farms and a local food economy."
The group says it is "particularly disturbed" by recommendations from the American Farm Bureau Federation that nutrition programs should bear 30% of any deficit cuts made in the Agriculture Committee's jurisdiction
"It ignores the extent of the actual need for programs and services; it ignores key principles defining where deficit reduction should come from to avoid harming the neediest people," they wrote.
In a passage Gov. Cuomo might not enjoy, they note the state's stagnant economy, high poverty rate, and unemployment numbers that "are not moving downward."
More than 3 million, they say, are receiving food stamps and still find themselves unable to meet their family food needs.
"An estimated three out of every 10 people eligible for SNAP/FS do not receive them," they wrote. "That gap is worse for elderly people, with nearly two of every three eligible low-income elders missed. Benefit levels average a shockingly low $4.35 per person per day."
Food banks and soup kitchens cannot keep up with the increasing need, they warn.
"We urge you to do everything in your power to protect these programs in the coming weeks and months. We know the challenges are great, but we can ask no less of you," the nine wrote.
Signing the letter are Sens. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn), Martin Dilan (D-Brooklyn), Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn), Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Westchester), Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), Jose Serrano (D-Manhattan), and Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan).